The Oakland Raiders are 2-0 in the preseason and seem to have all the earmarks of a team on the rise. As unlikely as it sounds, the Raiders could be a dark horse winner of the AFC West and return to the playoffs after a seven-year absence.
At the very least, Oakland’s defense seems to have come together—recording a preseason-high 12 sacks through two games. In turn, this has created quite a buzz around the NFL, no doubt giving Raiders’ fans a reason to feel confident about their team’s chances in 2010.
Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks wrote about his winners and losers halfway through the preseason. Banks describes the Raiders as a club that has finally turned the corner.
“Against the Bears on Saturday night, the Raiders flashed another facet of their emerging defensive improvement in a 32-17 win, sacking Chicago quarterbacks six times. Five came in the first half, when both teams were still playing their starters. Newly-acquired Oakland outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley was the star of game for the Raiders, abusing Bears offensive tackle Chris Williams with an eye-opening four sacks of Jay Cutler. (Two quick thoughts on that: When's the last time you can remember anyone amassing four sacks in a preseason game, and how about the Raiders for a change picking another club's pocket in a trade, which it looks like they did with the ex-Brown Wimbley?"
Confidence is high in the Bay Area, as both the Raiders and Niners have the look of a contender. The same can be said in Baltimore, New Orleans, Green Bay, New England, and New York (Jets).
However, there are several teams that may be wondering if the playoffs are a possibility this season—already there's doubt creeping in at Houston, Denver, Chicago, and even Minnesota.
With the start of the 2010 regular season less than two weeks away,10 teams are sweating a very important question: Is it time to panic or show patience?