The Oakland Raiders finished 8-8 in 2010 and everyone in the organization feels that they are ready to make the playoffs in 2011.
The Raiders went undefeated in their division last season and that is a major key in making the playoffs. If you can win games within your division then you have a chance to make the playoffs. Unfortunately the Raiders had issues beating teams outside of their division.
In 2011 the AFC West will face the AFC East and the NFC North. Nobody in the division will have an easy road to the playoffs.
It appears that the Raiders are ready to head to the playoffs in 2011. Here are ten reasons why I think the Raiders are playoff bound.
The Raiders are more than capable of having another winning record in the AFC West in 2011. They're built to beat their division rivals.
It's hard to argue that going 6-0 in the division was a fluke for Oakland. If the Raiders finish with a winning record in the AFC West look for them to increase their chances of making the playoffs.
Tom Cable was a players' coach and the players liked him. Unfortunately, that got the Raiders nowhere. Hue Jackson is a bright mind and a true leader.
The coaching change will prove to be one of the best moves the Raiders made this offseason. Look for the Raiders to take on Hue Jackson's image. He'll say all the right things like Cable did, but more importantly he'll have his team doing the right things on the field.
Mike Waufle and Hue Jackson showed the value of having great assistant coaches. Waufle turned the Raiders' defensive line into a beast, and we all know what Jackson did to the offense.
This year the Raiders have added guys like Rod Woodson, Steve Wisniewski, Greg Biekert, Chuck Bresnahan and Bob Wylie that were brought in to improve each aspect of the Raiders team.
This staff should be one of the strongest staffs the Raiders have had in years and should help their playoff chances in 2011.
With Tom Cable gone, that could mean that the Raiders' Zone Blocking scheme will no longer be the primary scheme for their offensive live.
Hue Jackson likes the power scheme used in Baltimore and it makes more sense with the type of offense the Raiders want to run. Al Davis mentioned in his most recent press conference that Jackson was limited in his play calling.
It lead me to believe that he was talking about the blocking scheme or the way Cable liked the offense. This change should help the offense evolve the way Jackson wants it.
Jason Campbell is entering his second season as an Oakland Raider and perhaps more importantly, the second year under the same offensive scheme.
Campbell feels like he has the city of Oakland and the Owner on his side which will boost his confidence. He had this to say in an interview with the Washington Post.
"It feels good just to see Mr. Davis go on TV and express how he feels about me as a quarterback," Campbell told the Post. "Just to have him in your corner, to have an owner in your corner, is just a great feeling. And to have guys embrace you and make you feel welcome...and just the season we had.
"You know, Oakland has been through some rough times. And for us to go out this year and to become a team that's getting that respect again, a team that has young players with a bright future, it's an exciting time. It's an exciting time in my life, career-wise and off the field."
He'll be a big reason the Raiders make a playoff run in 2011.
Darren McFadden had his coming out party in 2010, and he looks like he'll be a force in 2011. He changed the way he took care of his body in the offseason and that paid off for him and the Raiders.
McFadden looked more like the running back from Arkansas last season. Look for Jackson to find ways to get him the ball more. Expect McFadden to have another big season and be in the running for MVP in 2011.
Run DMC will be one of the biggest reasons the Raiders will make a playoff run next season.
Look for the Raiders receivers to have a breakout year in 2011. Guys like Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Chaz Schilens will make Oakland's receiving corps one of the most explosive in the league.
Ford looks like he could be the playmaker of the unit. Coach Jackson has already said he will find more ways to get Ford the ball. Murphy has been the most reliable receiver out of the whole unit making big plays when they need them most.
Heyward-Bey and Schilens will be the keys for this unit's success. Heyward-Bey must validate his first round selection and Schilens must stay healthy. If these two players show more production this year, the Raiders will have an easier time making the playoffs.
The Raiders' defensive line was one of the most dominant in the league last year. They were among the league leaders in sacks as a unit.
The line is led by veterans Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly in the middle and they are surrounded by youth. Lamarr Houston, Matt Shaughnessy, Desmond Bryant, Trevor Scott and the rest of the unit will make it hard for the opposing QB's and running backs.
This defensive line, which I have named, "The Black Hole" will be a major reason for the Oakland Raiders' success in 2011.
If I were a betting man, I would bet that Nnamdi Asomugha and Michael Huff will not be Oakland Raiders in 2011.
Not only will the secondary look a little different, but their scheme could look different as well. When Rod Woodson was hired he mentioned that the Raiders were going to try different looks and disguise more coverages.
If that is true this could be a great move by the Raiders. Their current scheme does ok in the pass game, but that was with Asomugha on the team. Their coverage scheme is one of the reasons the Raiders struggle in the run game.
If they disguise more coverages and mix it up a bit, the Raiders' defense could cause a lot more turnovers and that will lead them to the playoffs.
Last year the Raiders didn't have a losing record for the first time since 2002. That gave the Raiders a taste of success, as they were in the playoff hunt late in the season.
The attitude in the locker room should be much better and the hunger to win should be much greater. This team believes they are ready to take the next step and after going 8-8 last season the next step is a playoff appearance.
Look for the Raiders to make the playoffs in 2011.
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