Recently, the Oakland Raiders have become a semi popular pick to win the AFC West and make the playoffs. Supporters point to young talent and a sweep of the division last year.
Personally, I don't buy into the hype. In fact, I think the idea that the Raiders could make the playoffs is crock.
Even if they did slip in by a miracle—or a complete collapse by their whole division—they would be one and done and be on their way home faster than you can say "just win baby".
Here are five reasons why.
Last year the AFC west was weird.
Kansas city went 10-6 and won the division, but Oakland dominated the division, winning all their games against division opponents.
You also had the Chargers, who despite having the league leading offense and defense only finished 9-7—and missed the playoffs.
The Denver Broncos also play in this division, but they really don't matter except that Saint Tebow plays for them.
So Oakland managed to beat all these teams twice, but still only finished 8-8. That would seem to indicate that Oakland could win the division. Except that the Chiefs have possibly the best young talent in the league, and the Chargers may have the most talent period.
The Chargers have a premier quarterback in Phillip Rivers. A great quarterback is probably the most important part of a great team.
The Chiefs also have Matt Cassell, an up and comer leader at quarterback.
The Chargers also have a great defense, as do Kansas city. The run game is solid for both, and if Ryan Matthews breaks out for the Chargers they will be scary indeed.
Oakland fans may say they can match these players with their talent.
They are wrong and my next three points will prove it.
First, Huff may be back, and that would be good. He is an All-Pro and makes plays. The Raiders need him.
Not as much as Asomugha, though. The common thought is that he is as good as gone.
If he leaves it's over. You will be able to pass on the Raiders. Stanford Rutt and Chris Johnson are good, but they are not shutting down half the field like Nnamdi.
If Huff leaves too, the Raiders will lose two of their best playmakers. Even with Llamarr Houston and Richard Seymour getting pressure up front and Rolando McClain making plays at linebacker, the loss of the two best players in the secondary will hurt.
They could still have a good defense, but it won't compete with the Chargers and the Chiefs.
Louis Murphy, Chaz Schillens, Darius Heyward-Bey, and Jacoby Ford. All are unproven wide receivers for the Raiders who have shown glimpses of exceptional talent.
Ford, in particular, looks like a great weapon. He has skills as a kick returner, a deep threat, and a guy who can make clutch plays.
Sadly, they are all speed guys. In the NFL you need a receiver who can make possession catches and be a jump ball threat in the end zone.
The Raiders do not have that. They do have a good tight end in Zach Miller who can help fill this role, but a tight end id not enough. You need a wide receiver.
Unfortunately the Raiders did not address this in the draft. They did draft Denarius Moore, but despite how good of a player he is, he's just like the rest of the receivers on the team.
If the Raiders hope to have a solid receiving core this year they need to sign a good free agent like Plaxico Burress or Terrel Owens. Both are versatile and can go deep, but also can be good possession guys and red zone threats.
Jason Campbell has been in the league seven years. In that time he has been solid.
Yet despite ample opportunities as a Washington Redskin, he could never solidify himself as a franchise guy. Last year he was acquired by Oakland in a trade and became the starter. He had problems early, but rebounded and played well.
Is he good enough to vault the Raiders to the playoffs?
No. I feel that although he has become a leader for Oakland and has played decently, he is still not ready to be a franchise guy. Here's why.
He still can't put a team on his shoulders and will them to victory. He can make plays to good players and move the chains, but when it's all on him and his playmakers aren't producing, Campbell struggles.
This might be okay in other situations, but with the youth Oakland has they need a guy who can win games when his weapons are struggling, if they are to make the playoffs.
Another problem is that Campbell doesn't have a great deep ball. It's not a bad deep ball and he is capable of going deep, but the Raiders are built for the deep ball.
They have fast, mostly short, receivers who usually run deep routes or screens. This is set up by a solid run game that is the focal point of the offense. This is an offense that relies little on short and intermediate passes.
Which is why Oakland needs a guy with a great deep ball.
Despite all this my biggest issue with Campbell is that he has never established himself as a franchise guy. I said it in the beginning and I will say it now—he has had many chances in Washington and Oakland, but he just hasn't been able to do it.
I have little confidence he can now, so late in his career.
Ever since their Superbowl run the Raiders have made awful mistakes in terms of coaching hires and personnel moves.
The blame falls at the feet of Al Davis.
Al Davis values speed and athleticism more than skill and production. This is obvious when you look at his draft choices and free agent acquisitions.
Such bad choices in player management are Randy Moss, Derius Heyward-Bey, Jamarcus Russell, Robert Gallery, and many late round picks that have not worked out.
The dumbest move Davis ever made in regards to coaching was letting Jon Gruden go. The year after his release he went to Tampa Bay and won a Super Bowl against the Raiders, beating them badly.
It was an awful performance by Oakland and was caused in large by the fact that new coach, Bill Callahan, barely changed the offense, audibles, or play calls that were in place when Gruden was the coach.
That is pure idiocy, and the main reason Oakland was shut down offensively in the game. The next year Callahan went 4-12 and was fired, while Gruden enjoyed several more successful years in Tampa.
One of the worst parts about Davis is how he has fired the coaches for personal reasons rather than professional.
Lane Kiffin deserved to be fired, but the way in which Al Davis did it was awful. His prepared statement and press conference was little more than a smear campaign against Kiffin. Personally, my favorite part was when Al Davis said "Jamarcus Russell is a good quarterback, deal with it."
Lane Kiffin was right Al, Jamarcus is not a good quarterback. Maybe you should listen to your coaches, or anyone who actually understands football.
Sadly, Davis will probably still be leading this franchise for a few more years, which leaves Oakland in a bad spot.
Whether it be bad personnel decisions, bad coaching hires, or imposing his will on disgruntled coaches, Davis will be running this proud franchise into the ground for years to come.