Oakland Raiders: 10 Reasons the Silver and Black Are Playoff-Bound in 2011

Ramone BrownSenior Writer IMay 25, 2011

Oakland Raiders: 10 Reasons the Silver and Black Are Playoff-Bound in 2011

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    The Raiders will be in the playoffs in 2011
    The Raiders will be in the playoffs in 2011Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Oakland Raiders are on the way up. In 2010 the team was competitive for the first time in years and wasn't mathematically eliminated from the playoffs until week 16 and finished with a respectable 8-8 record.

    2011 will be a different story. This team will make the playoffs, and maybe, go even further.

    Here is a look at the top ten reason the Raiders will make the playoffs in 2011.

Speed Kills

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 02:  Wide receiver Jacoby Ford #12 of the Oakland Raiders runs down field in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    These are the Raiders; it had to be said.

    The Raiders, quite possibly, have the fastest team in the NFL. Jacoby Ford, Stanford Routt, Darius Heyward-Bey and now Demarcus Van Dyke were all the fastest players in their respective combines.

    The Raiders have speed all around; at running back, on the defensive line, at linebacker, at defensive back and even on the offensive line. The only team that can even think about matching the Raiders' speed is the Philidelphia Eagles with Michael Vick, Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.

    With superior speed, the Raiders' defense will be able to close quickly on both ball carriers and the QB. On offense, they will be able to out run defenders and stretch the field, thus forcing defenders to back off and respect their abilities.

    You can teach an athlete to play football, but you can't teach 4.3 speed.

Favorable Schedule

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    GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 12:  Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila #94 of the Green Bay Packers watches as a snow plow drives down the middle of the field in the fourth quarter of the game against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC divisional playoff game o
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    I already know what you're thinking: the Raiders play the Packers, the Patriots and the Jets; how can this team have an easy schedule?

    It isn't nearly as bad as it looks, as the rest of their division must play those teams as well.

    For one, the Raiders only have two games within the Eastern time zone: September 18th in Buffalo, and December 4th in Miami. Clearly, the Raiders play better on the West coast; last year the Raiders didn't record a single East cost win. As a matter of fact the Raiders won only two games outside of the Pacific time zone: one in Denver and one in Kansas City.

    Furthermore, the Raiders have only one projected cold weather game in the regular season: December 11th at Lambeau Field against the defending Super Bowl champs, the Green Bay Packers.

    In comparison, the Raiders' AFC West rivals all have, at minimum, three games on the east coast and two cold weather games.

    To make matters even better, the Raiders have a favorable bye in week eight before playing the Denver Broncos.

Great Practice Turnout Despite Lockout

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 5: Richard Seymour #92 of the Oakland Raiders smiles from the sidelines in the closing minutes of his team's 28-13 win over the San Diego Chargers during their NFL game at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2010 in San Diego, Califor
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    For those of you who weren't aware, the Oakland Raiders, led by Richard Seymour and Jason Campbell, have been practicing near Atlanta, Georgia.

    Currently, the Raiders have 34 players in attendance, including Richard Seymour, Jason Campbell, Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece, Darius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, Rolando McClain, Louis Murphy Stefan Wisniewski, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Richard Gordon, and numerous others.

    34 players (including three rookies) is great turnout, especially in comparison to a team like the New York Giants, who had only six players in attendance at their practices.

    When the season starts, the Raiders will be a step ahead of many of their oponents.

Jason Campbell

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Jason Campbell #8 of the Oakland Raiders throws a pass in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    I'm not the biggest Jason Campbell fan, and I've said negative things about him in the past. I'm not about to tell you that Campbell will be an elite QB, throw for 4000 yards, make the Pro Bowl or any other nonsense.

    However, what I'm about to tell you is that Jason Campbell will be greatly improved and will put up respectable numbers in 2011—likely something to the tune of 3600 yards, 20 TD's and 14 INT's.

    For one, Campbell is a perfect fit for the Raiders' vertical attack offense. The Raiders love to set up the deep ball with the run. Campbell's arm strength and polished play fake compliment this type of offense well.

    Then, there's familiarity. This will be the first time Jason Campbell has run the same offensive system two years in a row. Despite their new head coach, the Oakland Raiders will continue to run Hue Jackson's offense. Not only that, but Jason Campbell has been reunited with one of his former offensive coordinators in Al Saunders.

    In 2011 the Raiders' pass offense will be much improved along with Jason Campbell.

The Run Game

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during their game against the Denver Broncos at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Raiders have one of the best running games in the league,and  in 2010 they ranked 2nd in rushing yards with 2498 yards as well as 19 rushing touchdowns.

    Darren McFadden led the team in yardage with 1157 yards while Michael Bush quietly rumbled, leading the team with 8 rushing touchdowns.

    This duo will be back and contending for the leagues No. 1 rushing attack.

Special Teams

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    OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Sebastian Janikowski #11 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after kicking the game winning field goal in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 7, 2010 in Oaklan
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    I won't go as far as to say that the Raiders have the best special teams unit in the NFL, but they may have the most dangerous.

    Shane Lechlar is the best punter in the league. Although he has the leg to pin teams deep in their own territory, the distance of his kicks is often detrimental to the team, as he can out-kick the punt coverage.

    Sebastion Janikowski has the biggest leg of all NFL kickers. In fact, he has the leg to beat the all-time NFL record for longest kick of 63 yards. But his accurracy and consistancy are an issue, as he showed us against the Arizona Cardinals.

    The Raiders also have a very dangerous return man in Jacoby Ford, and another one is likely to emerge among Taiwan Jones, DeMarcus Van Dyke and the rest of the Raiders' speedsters.

    Not only that, but the Raiders have been known to block an occasional punt or field goal.

    Mark my words: the Raiders will win games by way of the special teams' play, similar to how they beat the Chargers in week 5 last season.

Divisional Dominance

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19:  J.D. Walton #50 of the Denver Broncos lines up against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos... The Raiders have their numbers, and last year, it showed. The Raiders swept within the AFC West with a perfect 6-0 record.

    In 2011, the Raiders' dominance over their rivals in the AFC West will continue as they sweep the division once again

Elite Pass Rush

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 21:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs out of the pocket from Matt Shaughnessy #77 of the Oakland Raiders during the game on November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wicke
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    I will say it right now: the Raiders have the best pass rush in the NFL.

    Sure, you can argue the Steelers have a better pass rush because they had 48 sacks compared to the Raiders' 47. But with a closer glance, you will realize the Steelers also saw 127 more passing attempts than did the Raiders. With an additional 127 chances to pursue to the QB, the Steelers were only able to accumalate one additional sack. Thus, it appears that the Raiders have the better pass rush.

    In 2011, Richard Seymour, Matt Shaughnessy, Kamerion Wimbley, Tommy Kelly, Lamarr Houston and the rest of the Raiders' pass rushers will continue to torment their opponents' QB's.

Improved Coaching Staff

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    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 31:  Rod Woodson answers questions from the media during the The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009 press conference at the Tampa Convention Center on January 31, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    I've already touched on how the continuity in their offensive scheme and Al Saunders' familiarity with Campbell will help the Raiders' offense.

    But what about their defense?

    On defense, the Raiders brought in Chuck Bresnahan, Greg Biekert, Rod Woodson and Kevin Ross to help coach on the defensive side of the ball.

    As we all know, by order of Al Davis, the Raiders will continue to run the same archaic defense that they have always run: 4-3, man coverage, single high safety.

    The reason these coaches will help the Raiders is simple: they've all had success either playing or coaching such a defense.

    Chuck Bresnahan coached the Raiders to the Super Bowl while running such a defense, while Woodson and Biekert played in that defense.

    The new coaches will use their experience to teach the players how to be succesful in man coverage.

Hue Jackson

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    ALAMEDA, CA - JANUARY 18:  New Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson (L) poses for a photograph with Raiders owner Al Davis on January 18, 2011 in Alameda, California. Hue Jackson was introduced as the new coach of the Oakland Raiders, replacing the fired Tom
    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    It can be said that football teams are a personification of their head coach. In 2011, the Oakland Raiders will resemble the firey character of Hue Jackson.

    When in 2010 Al Davis brought in Hue Jackson to run the offense, the results were spectacular. Under Hue Jackson the offense previously ranked 31st in the NFL improved to sixth in scoring.

    Now that Hue Jackson is the head coach, the team as a whole will make a similar improvement to that which the offense made under Jackson.


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    OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 3: Running back Michael Bush #29 of the Oakland Raiders drags Troy Nolan #33 and DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans into the endzone for a touchdown during an NFL football game October 3, 2010 at The Oakland-Alameda County Colise
    Thearon W, Henderson/Getty Images

    There, I said it: after winning the AFC West title, the Raiders will be in the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

    Are there any points I may have missed?

    Or do you disagree? If you disagree, tell me why you think I am wrong.