Raiders Week 1 rank : 22nd
Another underrated AFC West team? Yes. Although the Raiders are not criminally under-ranked, they are under-ranked. The Raiders had the second best rushing team (behind the Chiefs) in the NFL last season, Darren McFadden finally lived up to the hype, and Michael Bush showed that he could start for a hand full of teams.
Though questions still remain: can Jason Campbell (who will finally have two consecutive years under the same offensive coordinator) give the raiders some stability at the quarterback position? Can a young receiving core, with no clear cut number one, fill the void left by Zach Miller? Can an offensive line starting rookie Stefen Wisniewski and second year player Jared Veldheer repeat their run blocking prowess of 2010? We shall see...
3 Reason the Raiders are Under-ranked:
1) Darren McFadden (Just watch this. Forget my explanation): People are going to get a long look at how good Darren McFadden really is 2011. In his 2010 campaign, Darren McFadden totaled 1,664 yards while scoring 10 touchdowns. His season went generally unnoticed by the public due to the fact that Al Davis has created the Raiders into the butt of many a NFL jokes. For all you fantasy football junkies, look for Darren McFadden to be a top 5 pick next year.
2) Defense: The most underrated part of the 2010 Raiders. The Raiders ranked second against the pass, and were tied for the second most sacks. Both of these statistics can be attributed to an unrelenting pass rush consisting of Kamerion Wimbley, Richard Seymour, Lamarr Houston, Matt Shaughnessy and Tommy Kelly. This group is easily the most underrated defensive front in football.
3) Speed: Based on how Al Davis evaluates talent and how he subsequently drafts, the Raiders have to be the fastest team in the NFL. Although, Davis obviously overvalues speed, speed still kills in the NFL. With players such as Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Denarius Moore, Darren McFadden, Chris Johnson, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Stanford Routt, the Raiders are definitely not lacking the "quicks" department. The question is: Does speed equal a good football player?
2011 prediction: 7-9
Week 1 Rank: 20th
The Raiders have very similar problems as the Chiefs: Growing pains, an unproven QB, lack of depth; but that didn't keep them from moving up two spots in my rankings. It will be interesting to see how the Raiders utilize McFadden and Bush. They form one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL today, but will the Raider coaching staff be able to harness their potential.
My Rankings (18-22):