The Oakland Raiders had an up and down year in 2011. They lost their team owner, but had glimpses of hope on the field. They overpaid, I mean traded for QB Carson Palmer mid-season, but he filled a need at quarterback. They hope he can lead the passing attack and the team to its first Super Bowl in a decade.
The AFC West has been won by a different team each of the last three seasons. Is it Oakland’s turn to wear the crown? Can Darren McFadden stay healthy for an entire season?
Key Additions: QB Matt Leinart, CB Shawntae Spencer, LB Phillip Wheeler, DE Dave Tollefson, FB Owen Schmitt, CB Pat Lee, OG Mike Brisiel, TE Tory Humphrey, CB Ron Bartell, OG Tony Bergstrom, LB Miles Burris, DE Jack Crawford, WR Juron Criner and DT Chris Bilukidi.
Key Losses: LB Kamerion Wimbley, WR Louis Murphy, QB Jason Campbell, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, C Samson Satele, CB Lito Sheppard, WR Chaz Schilens, RB Michael Bush, QB Kyle Boller, TE Kevin Boss, RB Rock Cartwright, LB Quentin Groves, OT Stephon Hoyer, CB Stanford Routt and DE Trevor Scott.
Non-Division Schedule: AFC North and NFC South
Fantasy Sleeper: RB Taiwan Jones – Darren McFadden is coming back from a serious injury. He already has a history of various injuries that forced him to miss games. Oakland signed Mike Goodson from Carolina, but Taiwan Jones is an intriguing player. He was limited in 2011 because Michael Bush was in the way. Bush is now in Chicago and the backup job is open in Oakland.
Team Analysis: Oakland had a surprising offensive attack in 2011. McFadden stayed healthy (for most of the season until injuring his knee), Carson Palmer had flashes of his old self and Darrius Heyward-Bey removed the “bust” tag from himself. Palmer will need to stay healthy and produce like its 2003 if he hopes to get Oakland into the playoffs. Oakland lost both of its backup quarterbacks, so Matt Leinart and Terelle Pryor are on-deck if Palmer can’t do the job…so he needs to stay healthy. He will also need to rely on Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore and Heyward-Bey, a very inexperienced group of receivers. On the defensive end, it was a down year for the group last season. Their secondary is still weak and they will need to rely on a pass rush to disrupt the passing game. They will need big years from Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. I don’t see Oakland having a great season. Denver is improved and I like San Diego much more in 2012. Their non-division schedule is more difficult this season and Oakland is still a few pieces away from contending for the AFC West division.
2012 Wins Over/Under Line: 7.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2012 Projected Win/Loss Record: 6-10