For the Oakland Raiders impressive ten year run of being the laughingstock of the NFL, the biggest obstacle will be overcoming the stigma of being the worst-run organization in professional sports. That said, I think they are finally making intelligent football decisions for the first time since Jon Gruden was coaching the club.
31. Oakland Raiders (2013 Record: 4-12)
In 2013, the Raiders were mostly competitive early on; however, the rug was pulled out from under them once Terrelle Pryor was figured out and exposed late in the season. The Raiders would lose eight of their last nine games giving up an average of 34 points per game. Their aggressive actions in free agency have that boom or bust feel to it, but they drafted very smartly and may have found their quarterback of the future in Derek Carr.
Key Losses: Lamarr Houston, Jared Veldheer, Vance Walker, Rashad Jennings, Tracy Porter, Mike Jenkins
Key Acquisitions: Austin Howard, LaMarr Woodley, James Jones, Justin Tuck, Donald Penn, Antonio Smith, Maurice Jones-Drew, Tarell Brown, Kevin Boothe, Carlos Rogers
Might the Raiders finally be turning the corner? They have bitten the bullet and suffered through cap hell and now they are being thrifty and conservative in their roster moves. It gives me the sense they know they are still a few years away from really turning the corner and are just trying to stay competitive until then. If the Raiders can keep their coaching staff in place and continue building on the progress they are making, then maybe they will. Then again, it’s the freaking Raiders!
It also doesn’t help their situation that they have the toughest schedule in the NFL for 2014. I see just two or three winnable games at home and maybe two winnable games on the road. It is going to be a brutal season for the Raider Nation, but isn’t always brutal for them nowadays?
Projected Record: 3-13
MHR Staff Rankings
MHR Staff Commentary
Kyle: The Raiders had a good draft, but until they find a quarterback I can’t see them as a threat. And Matt Schaub inexplicably fell apart in 2013.
Pete: Khalil Mack is going to be a bust. Besides, the next time a home grown talent from the Raiders lights the league on fire will be the first time a Raider lights the league on fire.
Topher: The Raiders have finally had two solid drafts in a row and the passing of Al Davis along with better coaching and management seems to be paying off. Last season they had the least talented team in the NFL and still ended up with the same record as teams like the Browns and Texans, two teams many considering very talented. After a very, very good draft… the Raiders will still be at the bottom of the AFC West but they closed the gap a little against the Chiefs and towards .500 again.
Jacob: Khalil Mack was one of my favourite players in the draft, and his acquisition alone makes this defense much more menacing; The defense got tougher with the signings of defensive backs Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers as well. Despite the criticism, Matt Schaub and Derek Carr are an upgrade on Pryor and McGloin, and MJD will be an option at running back, provided he can stay healthy. James Jones is a possession receiver who should be a good fit with Schaub or Carr, depending on who starts. The Raiders’ main problem is being in a tough division; however, they’ll challenge Kansas City for third in the division in 2014. 5-7 wins.
Mike: It’s gonna take more than a bunch of B level backups and a Von Miller knock off to give the Broncos a run for their money. However they did surpass the lowly Chiefs into 3rd place in our division.
Laurie: I will always rank them last because I hate the Raiders. It’s personal and I’m not afraid to admit it. And as much as its defense improved in the offseason with Khalil Mack, this group isn’t going to shut down the likes of Peyton Manning or even cry baby Philip Rivers – which means the Raiders offense has to actually score more than 20 points if it’s going to compete in the AFC West. And that doesn’t seem very likely…mostly because I have voodoo dolls of the entire team.
Jon: Mack will help improve the defense, but their offense will have trouble keeping up with the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos in the AFC West. Expect Oakland to finish last in the division once again.