The Oakland Raiders are now pressing on after losing the services of Zach Miller and Nnamdi Asomugha. There are many that see the two losses as devastating to their chances of building on last year's 8-8 record.
I don't see it that way.
Asomugha is the best corner in the game today, but the Raiders handcuffed themselves with his large salary. The rest of the team has to be good in order for a corner to have an impact on a team anyway.
I guess that's why Asomugha is in Philadelphia.
Miller is far from the best at his position and wanted Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzales money. The Seahawks gave it to him, but Miller has made only one Pro Bowl, and that was because two tight ends were injured.
Not only is Miller not worth that type of money but the Raiders upgraded at the position. Kevin Boss is better, and David Ausberry is former wide receiver that figures to be a much better down the field receiver.
In the long run, Ausberry alone will be an upgrade.
Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson are good enough to win with at corner and the depth will be fine too. Michael Huff will likely be the nickel corner with DeMarcus Van Dyke coming on along with Chimdi Chekwa.
The offensive line has improved immensely, and Rolando McClain looks ready to take the next step. The receiver corps has also significantly improved, so I'm ready to predict a good year of the Raiders.
Turn the page to get a game by game look at it.
When was the last time the Raiders won on opening day?
Well, never mind that because the Raiders are going to win on opening day in 2011 thanks to Roger Goodell. Raider Nation needs to thank him for giving the Raiders a more than winnable game to start 2011.
The Broncos couldn't stop the run, so the went out and got Von Miller, a pass-rushing outside linebacker. They brought in Ty Warren to help their woes against the run, but the Patriots haven't consistently stopped the run since Richard Seymour left town.
Oh yeah, the Raiders have Seymour and Rolando McClain entering his second year so the Raiders will stop the run in 2011. Knowshon Moreno will be No-yards Moreno while Darren McFadden and Michael Bush run wild.
From there, the Broncos' safeties will cheat up and it will be bombs away with the track team of receivers. The Broncos will then have to abandon John Fox's smash-mouth football to get back in the game, but quarterback Kyle Orton will get punished by the Raiders' defensive line.
This will be far from a pretty game, but I'm not going to predict a 59-17 blowout for the Raiders.
35-13 is more like it.
Thank you Roger!
After the Broncos, the Buffalo Bills of all teams are next on the schedule for the Raiders. A young, talented and confident team, fresh off of an opening day win will be too much for the Bills in their Week 2 matchup.
Terrance McGee is a decent corner, but he won't be able to run with the likes of Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy and Denarius Moore all day. Marcell Darreus has been added to stop the run but the Bills lost Paul Posluzny to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Therefore, the running game of the Raiders and total offense continues to roll against the bills. On the flip-side, I really like C.J. Spiller, but the offensive line won't be able to keep the Raiders' front seven off of him long enough.
The same goes for Bills' quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Lee Evans isn't even there anymore as he is going to help the Baltimore Ravens get far in 2011. Roscoe Parrish is a blazer, but he will be neutralized by a combination of Routt and the Raiders pass-rush.
But the Bills will fight, and the Raiders will eek out a 27-21 victory.
After a two-game win streak to open the season, the Raiders are at home to face the New York Jets. The Raiders are now confident as ever and will match the swagger that Jet's head coach Rex Ryan is known for.
I am very thirsty but somehow, I just can't get myself to drink the New York Jets' Kool-Aid. I'm not sold on Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez, especially behind an offensive line that isn't the greatest.
You can't have questions on the offensive line playing against the Raiders' defensive line. You also need a pass-rusher on the team to disrupt the Raiders' passing game under Hue Jackson and Al Saunders.
Saunders will have something for the Jets having to bring seven guys on each play.
Raiders win 17-13.
Raiders are now 3-0!
Back to life, back to reality.
The Raiders will be riding high off of winning their first three games of the 2011 season. The New England Patriots, a real elite team, will send the Raiders crashing back down to earth from their high.
Patriots' head coach Bill Belichik will get something out of Chad Johnson and a little something out of Albert Haynesworth. It will do little in the way of stopping the Raiders' running game, so the Raiders will be on all cylinders.
The Raiders' problem will be Tom Brady as usual in a close game the Raiders were really inspired to win for Richard Seymour. But beating teams like the Patriots is a process, and the Raiders haven't quite got there yet.
Patriots win 28-24.
The Raiders are now 3-1.
Now it's time for the Raiders to go to Houston to take on an improved Texan team. I did say that they are improved with Johnathn Joseph at corner, but I'm not quite sold on Mario Williams at outside linebacker.
I'm not sold on the Texans as an elite team, period.
But I am sold on the Texans winning at home against a hung over team from a tough loss the previous week.
Texans win it 20-17.
After dropping two in a row, Seymour is going to re-rally the troops, so a potentially great season doesn't slip away. This means curtains for Colt McCoy and his Cleveland Browns going to Oakland in Week 6.
The Browns will try to play smash mouth football with Madden 12 cover boy Peyton Hillis but Seymour, McClain and company will take care of that. Joe Thomas has McCoy's backside on passing plays, but there will be heat coming from the whole defensive line on this Sunday.
You really can't even guarantee that Thomas will keep emerging star Matt Shaughnessy off of McCoy. On offense, it will be too much McFadden and Ford for the Browns to deal with.
Raiders win 24-10.
The Raiders are now 4-2.
Sorry Chief fans, this isn't going to be a pretty one for you guys because the Chiefs don't match up well with the Raiders. Nnamdi Asomugha is gone, but Routt is still with the Raiders and guarded Chiefs' star receiver Dwayne Bowe most of the time last year anyway.
"But we have Steve Breaston now."
He was a great No. 3 receiver with Boldin and Fitzgerald, but his production has slipped as a No. 2. The Raiders will have Chris Johnson on him, and I like Johnson in the matchup everyday and twice on Sunday.
"We have Kelly Gregg to stop the Raiders' running game.
Child please, Gregg is done because Baltimore doesn't let good football players go, and Mike Vrabel is retired. Vrabel probably would have come back another year if he thought the Chiefs really had something.
Then the Chiefs let go of a Pro Bowler on the offensive line that doesn't pass block well to begin with. That leaves their offensive line no chance against the Raiders' defensive line, run or pass.
"But we have Jared Gaither!"
I wanted him to be a Raider at one point but no one knows him better than Jackson and Saunders. They brought him in at the start of free agency, and if they didn't take him, he is not he same guy.
Raiders win 27-10.
The Raiders are now 5-2.
Under Jackson and the rest of the Raiders' staff, the Raiders will manage the bye week much better this year. So after having Week 8 off, the Raiders will be poised to destroy the Denver Broncos.
The Raiders were the more physical team last year, and the Raiders are much more physical now. I don't see where the Broncos have gotten any more physical, so this is going to be an ugly one.
McFadden goes for 200 and the Raiders win 30-7.
The Raiders are now 6-2.
A gimpy Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd won't be enough to beat the Raiders. I love how people like to bring up 2010 and how Charger quarterback Phillip Rivers threw to 17 different receivers.
That's great, but how many games did the Chargers win throwing to all those guys?
Did they make the playoffs?
Did they beat the Raiders?
Beating Rivers up is how you stop that running game anyway.
Raiders beat the Chargers 30-24.
That makes the Raiders 7-2.
I really believe that Jared Veldheer has gotten much better, but we're taking about Allen here and a loud crowd that will slow Veldheer down a bit out of his stance. I also believe that the Raiders' run defense is much improved, but we're talking about Peterson here.
The Raider run defense won't be that much better.
Not with the Vikings in that loud dome stadium.
McFadden will have himself a day too, knowing Peterson is on the other side.
But the Vikings win the battle of the Jareds, the battle of the running backs and the game 24-21.
The Raiders then fall to 7-3.
The sun is not going to shine on Jay Cutler until he has an offensive line that can block for him. It particularly won't shine on him when they face the Raiders and their fab four defensive line.
Culter is going to be under pressure and give the Raiders at least two interceptions. Fantasy owners, you better start Routt, Johnson and Huff on Week 12 because there is a chance that all three have an interception.
Veldheer is going to struggle with Julius Peppers, but the Raiders will get just enough going to get this one done.
Raiders win the game 14-10.
The Raiders go to 8-3.
The Raiders get get an opportunity to avenge a non divisional loss in 2010 in Week 13 against the Dolphins. There will be a lot of things different in this game from the 2010 matchup between the two teams.
Ricky Williams is now a Raven and Ronnie Brown is now an Eagle with the Raiders' run defense improving. Jason Campbell is the unquestioned starter in the same offense for the first time in his career.
The Raiders will now have Wisniewski along with Bruce Campbell to deal with guys like Paul Soliai up the middle. Moore and Ford will light it up for the Raiders in the passing game, and McFadden will get a chance to hurt the Dolphins in the running and passing game.
David Ausberry will have figured things out enough to make a big play in this by then too.
Dolphin quarterback Chad Henne won't be so lucky in this game.
Raiders win 33-17, the same score they were beaten by last year.
The Raiders go to 9-3.
Will this young Raider team hit a wall late in the season?
There will be a lot of rookies contributing, but it won't be a rookie wall.
It's going to be a Packer wall.
Clay Mathews Jr. will be at home with those loud fans coming off the edge with speed and furry. Veldheer will learn from this experience in Minnesota, still struggle with Mathews but not as bad.
That's going to be the key in why the Raiders can't quite keep up with the Packers.
One of those Packer recievers is going to get loose too.
Packers win 30-21.
The Raiders go to 9-4
The Detroit Lions will not be a joke.
They will be just like the Raiders in their turnaround season.
They will have a murderer's row of a defensive line too, but the Raiders will have a better offensive line and more of a running game to respect. That and the fact the the Raiders are at home will give the Raiders the decisive edge in the game.
To be honest, if the Lions were at home, I would give them the edge but the Oco.Collesium will be packed with a winning product on the field. Raider fans in the Bay Area will also hear the whispers of Davis taking the team back to L.A. if ticket sales continue to sag.
The result will be a tough 21-17 win for the Raiders.
Raiders go to 10-4.
The Chiefs won't be able to use their smoke and mirrors to win ball games this year, and they won't be playing for anything at this time. The Raiders are still in the fight for a decent seed in the playoffs, so they will have to go get it in Kansas City.
Go get it is what they will do as they don't particularly like the Chiefs anyway.
That offensive line defensive line matchup will be too much for the Chiefs to overcome.
Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell may not make it through the game.
The Raiders win 28-14 and go to 11-4.
This is going to be a real battle for about a half as the San Diego Chargers are fighting for a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Before the game, the Raiders will learn that their current game will have no affect on their playoff seating.
All of the Raiders' important players will be taken out of the game at halftime to rest up for the playoffs. The Chargers will then spring to the advantage of that and win the game 20-17.
Jackson also wasn't looking to give too much away from his playbook for the playoff run.
In Hue Jackson's first year in Raider Nation as the offensive coordinator, the Raiders made a three-game jump. In his first year as head coach and with Saunders as his offensive coordinator, the Raiders make another three-game jump.
The talent is there along with the coaching staff, and the schedule isn't too bad either.
Barring major injuries to important players, the Oakland Raiders will go 11-5 and win the AFC West.
I will stand by it.