Friday, August 8, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - Oakland Raiders

OAKLAND RAIDERS                                    

2013 Record: 4-12-0

Key Additions: RB Maurice Jones-Drew; WR James Jones; OL Austin Howard; OL Donald Penn; DL Justin Tuck; LB LaMarr Woodley; CB Carlos Rogers; DL Antonio Smith.

Key Losses: QB Terrelle Pryor; WR Jacoby Ford; DL Lamarr Houston; RB Rashad Jennings; CB Phillip Adams; OL Jared Veldheer.

HEAD COACH: Dennis Allen

Offense: Matt Schaub comes over from the Houston Texans to take over the starting quarterback position after throwing for 2,310 yards last season with 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in ten games. Backing up will be Matt McGloin (1,547 yards with eight TD and eight INT) and rookie Derek Carr (Fresno State).
The running game will have Darren McFadden (379 yards with five TD) and newcomer Maurice Jones-Drew, who gained 803 yards with five touchdowns last season playing in Jacksonville. Marcell Reece is the fullback and a good one at that as he ran for 218 yards (4.7 ypc average) and scored two touchdowns.
The wide receivers include James Jones, who comes over from the Green Bay Packers after catching 59 passes for 817 yards and three touchdowns last year. Rod Streator is also back after leading the team with 60 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns. Denarius Moore (46, 695, five TD) is also on hand along with Andre Holmes (25, 431, one TD) and tight end Mychal Rivera, who had 38 receptions for 407 yards and four scores.
The line has center Steve Wisniewski along with tackles Donald Penn and Austin Howard. The guards are Khalif Barnes and Tony Bergstrom. Others in the fold include Menelik Watson, Jack Cornell, rookie pick Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State) and Kevin Boothe.

STATS - Oakland finished 23rd overall on offense in 2013, gaining 334 yards per game, including 209 passing (24th) and 125 rushing per game, which ranked 12th in the league. The Raiders averaged 22 points a game, which placed them 22nd overall. Raiders quarterbacks were sacked 44 times a year ago while the team turned the ball over 31 times with 20 picks and eleven fumbles.

Defense: Oakland rebuilt their defensive line this off-season by bringing in Justin Tuck (11 QB sacks) and LaMarr Woodley (five sacks) to play defensive end. The tackles are Antonio Smith (five sacks) and Pat Sims.
Linebackers Kevin Burnett and Sio Moore (4.5 sacks) or possibly rookie Khalil Mack (Buffalo U.) will man the outside while Nick Roach (5.5 sacks) is the middle linebacker.
The secondary has an old but familiar face back again in Charles Woodson at free safety, playing along with strong safety Tyvon Branch. The corners are D.J. Hayden and Carlos Rogers. Tarell Brown and Chance Casey are also available at cornerback.

STATS -  The Raiders were decent against the run last season, giving up 108 yards per game (13th in NFL) but the pass defense was weak, allowing 256 yards per game while ranking 28th overall. Oakland was 22nd overall in total defense, giving up 364 yards per game while also ranking near the bottom of the league (29th) in scoring defense, allowing 28 points per game. The Raiders had 38 QB sacks with just nine interceptions a year ago.

OUTLOOK: It will either be boom or bust this season in Oakland as the Raiders invested in a slew of cagey veterans on defense and some talented and proven veterans on offense.
Head Coach Dennis Allen could be shown the door if the team lays another egg like last season when they finished well behind the rest of the AFC West with a 4-12 record.
After dropping eight of their final nine games, the Raiders will be looking to those veterans along with a mix of young players to produce a winning season. It won't be easy for the Silver and Black playing in a strong division that saw Denver, Kansas City and San Diego all make the playoffs last year.
If Schaub can regain some of his old magic from his days in Houston and Maurice Jones-Drew has anything left in the tank, the offense should be much improved from a year ago. James Jones and Denarius Moore give the Raiders two solid receivers for Schaub to throw the ball to. Having a healthy Darren McFadden (six more missed games in 2013) would do wonders for the offense as well.
On defense, if Tuck and Woodley can muster the number of sacks from their best years and the secondary get more pickoffs, the Raiders pass defense should be better. A shout out goes to kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who is one of the best (if not the best) kicker in the NFL with his booming kicks and ability to consistently make long field goals.
The big question is whether or not the Raiders can be a playoff team, but they should show improvement over last season's disastrous finish. The call here is for a 7-9 record and with some breaks, who knows, perhaps this team could get back to some form of glory. Just don't expect it to happen this season. 

Week 1- at NY Jets
Week 2- vs. Houston
Week 3- at New England
Week 4- vs. Miami (London, England)
Week 5- BYE WEEK
Week 6- vs. San Diego
Week 7- vs. Arizona
Week 8- at Cleveland
Week 9- at Seattle
Week 10- vs. Denver
Week 11- at San Diego
Week 12- vs. Kansas City
Week 13- at St. Louis
Week 14- vs. San Francisco
Week 15- at Kansas City
Week 16- vs. Buffalo
Week 17- at Denver

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