2010 Oakland Raiders Road to the Playoffs: 10 Non-Divisional Opponents
Tom Cable has stated that the Raiders goal this year is to reach the playoffs.
The road to the playoffs this year will go through the NFC West and the AFC South. The Raiders will also play a team from the AFC East and AFC North.
There is a very good feeling about the Raiders in 2010, and it is much different than before.
ESPN's John Clayton has the Raiders as one of his five surprise teams for 2010. The Raider Nation as a whole is very happy after draft weekend, and even the players attitudes this year are much more up beat than before.
Let's take a look at the Raiders non-divisional opponents in 2010 and how I think the outcome will play out.
The Raiders open their season at Tennessee where they will play the Titans in their home opener.
The Titans are led by Chris Johnson and Vince Young on offense and are a run heavy team. The Titans don't have a strong passing game, but Young remains a very dangerous weapon with his feet during all passing plays.
I like this match up for the Raiders. The Raiders are fast on defense, and have worked on stopping the run this offseason.
Look for the Raiders to unleash an aggressive defensive game plan against the Titans.
Look for Michael Bush and Darren McFadden to come out running and have success against the Titans defense. Jason Campbell should manage his first game as a Raider pretty well as he will play behind an excellent running game and a much improved offensive line.
Prediction: Raiders win 24-17. A Raiders defensive touchdown and a late kick by Sebastian Janikowski should seal the deal.
St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Stephen Jackson's will come visit Oakland for their home opener. This home opener couldn't be better for the Raiders.
The Rams would have presented a matchup problem for the Raiders last year, but the Raiders have added guys to make sure Jackson does not run wild.
The Rams currently have Sam Bradford who should start and should provide some INT opportunities to Oakland's talented secondary.
Look for the Raiders to jump to an early lead against the Rams defense that is still struggling to find itself. McFadden and Bush should once again be the anchors for the offense and both should have a great game.
The Raiders defense will be too much for the Rams unit and should cause turnovers early. A sell out crowd will be too much for the Rams to handle.
Prediction: Raiders win 20-10. The Raiders defense is more aggressive and which should contain the Rams.
The Arizona Cardinals will be a different team in 2010.
Losing Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin will make the Cardinals more of a running team. The Raiders defense will be ready for the run. Nnamdi Asomugha and the Raiders secondary will be ready for Larry Fitzgerald and company.
Look for the Raiders to take advantage of an early season game and sneak away with a victory in Arizona. Jason Campbell should have an easy time finding open receivers against an Arizona defense that will be beat up early by the Raiders run game.
Prediction: Raiders 24-Cardinals 20. The Raiders offense will control most of the time of possession with the run game and will contain the Cardinals offense.
The Raiders defeated the Houston Texans last time they came to Oakland. They have played the Raiders the last couple years and should make for a great game.
The Texans sport a much improved defense and should give the Raiders all they can handle in Oakland.
The Texans offense sports a talented unit. They have a solid backfield, solid receiving crew and a pro-bowl caliber tight end. This will be a close match up that the Raiders will fall short in.
Prediction: Texans 20-Raiders 17. Late touchdown by Texans give them the win.
San Fransiso 49ers
This match up will be big for many reasons. Two Bay Area teams looking to get back to their winning ways.
Expect the media to glorify the 49ers and thwart the Raiders. You'll hear plenty of Michael Crabtree vs. Darrius Heyward-Bey talk. You might even hear talk about a former No. 1 pick that hasn't lived up to the expectations.
No, not JaMarcus Russell, but Alex Smith the 2005 No. 1 overall pick.
I expect this game to be a physical hard hitting game with plenty of flags to go around. Both coaches love the "hit you in the mouth" attitude, and one of them may break your jaw.
Prediction: Raiders win 27-17. Someone will throw a punch. Watch your jaws!
It's nice to see these old AFC West rivals go at it again. The Raiders should have their way with Seattle in this round.
Pete Carroll was a great college coach, but the NFL is different and he shouldn't expect instant success.
The Raiders defense and running game will be the story of the game. Do you guys see a theme going on here? The Seahawks drafted Russell Okung, but don't expect him to do well against Richard Seymour.
Prediction: Raiders win again 17-9.
The Steelers still have bad dreams about last season's game. They let a team led by Bruce Gradkowski embarrass them at home.
This season will be different. The Steelers have improved their weak secondary and Troy Polamalu should be healthy.
The Raiders exploited their weakness last year and the Steelers don't want that to happen again.
Expect a tough physical game that will take a lot of older members of the Raider Nation back to a time when these two teams were the dominant teams.
Predictions: Steelers 24-Raiders 20. A trip to the east coast will be hard on the Raiders.
Brandon Marshall will make another visit to Oakland, but this time as a Dolphin. Unfortunately, for him Nnamdi Asomugha is still a Raider.
By this time both teams will be in the playoff hunt, but a long road trip to Oakland and a stingy defense will be too much for the Dolphins.
They will struggle stopping the Raiders rushing attack and the receivers will be making a couple big plays on play action passes.
Prediction: Raiders win 24-13. Darrius Heyward-Bey has a good day vs. the Dolphins secondary.
The Raiders play their second Florida team in three weeks. This time they make the trip to the east side of the country to meet up against a former teammate. Kirk Morrison will have this game circled on his calendar.
First, he gets tendered with a low draft pick, then he gets traded for a fourth round pick. He now wears the same number, 55, as the rookie who replaced him on the Raiders. This should be an emotional game for Morrison and the Raiders.
Prediction: Jaguars win 20-17. Both offenses struggle and the game is ended late with a Kirk Morrison fumble recovery.
The Raiders gave the Colts a scare last time they came to Oakland. The Raiders secondary should have their hands full in this game.
The Colts will be in a position they haven't been at in a while. They will have to win this game in order to position themselves to win their division.
Look for Peyton Manning and the Colts to escape with a close win in Oakland. The defense will not be able to find an answer for the Colts offensive weapons.
This could set up a potential first round playoff matchup if the Colts don't get home field advantage.
Prediction: Colts, 31-27. Manning leads his team late in the fourth to take the lead for good.
Up Next Division Rivals
If the Raiders want to make the playoffs, this scenario would be great. They would have a 6-4 record against non-divisional opponents and it would put them in a good position to make the playoffs.
They have to take care of business in their divisional games in 2010, if they want to make a run into the playoffs.
Later in the week, we'll take a look at how they will do against their divisional rivals and how they can make the playoffs.
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