2015 Record: 7-9-0
Head Coach: Jack Del Rio
New Faces for 2016 - DL/LB Bruce Irvin, DB Reggie Nelson, CB Sean Smith, OL Kelechi Osemele, LB Daren Bates
OFFENSE: Quarterback Derek Carr (3,987 passing yards with 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions) has blossomed in two short years into a top player and will be backed up by Matt McGloin with Connor Cook (rookie from Michigan State) holding the clipboard.
Latavius Murray went for 1,066 yards (4.0 ypc average) and six touchdowns and will be the starter again. Roy Helu and possibly rookie DeAndre Washington (Texas Tech) will spell Murray in the backfield.
The wide receivers are led by Amari Cooper, who was nothing short of fantastic in his rookie season, making 72 catches for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. Michael Crabtree (85 receptions for 922 yards and nine TD) is the other starting wideout. Seth Roberts (32, 480, five TD) is another option for Carr. The tight ends look to be Clive Walford (28, 329, three TD) and Mychal Rivera (32, 280, one TD).
DEFENSE: The Raiders have Dan Williams and Justin Ellis playing tackle with Kahlil Mack (15 QB sacks) and Mario Edwards playing the ends. Rookies Jihad Ward (Illinois) and Shilique Calhoun (Michigan State) are other options up front.
The linebackers are Bruce Irvin (free agent from Seattle), who had 5 1/2 sacks a year ago and Malcolm Smith (four sacks) on the outside. The middle linebacker is Ben Heeney.
The safeties are Reggie Nelson and rookie Karl Joseph (West Virginia) while Sean Smith and David Amerson (four interceptions) play the corner positions. Nate Allen is versatile in the defensive backfield.
OUTLOOK: There is a lot of optimism in Oakland coming into the 2016 season for the first in many years as some feel this team is ready to make it back to the post-season for the first time since the 2002 season.
A lot will depend on how well the defense plays after coming on strong last season. The Raiders finished 22nd overall, allowing 364 yards per game while giving up 24.5 points per game.
The offense put up 22.4 points per game with Derek Carr playing well behind center. The running game needs to step it up to go along with the passing game to keep opposing defenses honest.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio has the players to see this team make a run, but a lot has to continue to go right for the Raiders for them to get to the playoffs. The AFC West is an open division with Kansas City looming as the pre-season favorites to win the division.
As long as Carr keeps the turnovers to a minimum and the defense continues to improve, Oakland can contend in the AFC West this season. Whether or not they make the playoffs this year depends on how they do in head-to-head games against their division rivals.
Fearless forecast - 9-7 this year
2016 TEAM SCHEDULE
Week 1 - at New Orleans
Week 2 - vs. Atlanta
Week 3 - at Tennessee
Week 4 - at Baltimore
Week 5 - vs. San Diego
Week 6 - vs. Kansas City
Week 7 - at Jacksonville
Week 8 - at Tampa Bay
Week 9 - vs. Denver
Week 10 - BYE
Week 11 - vs. Houston (in Mexico City)
Week 12 - vs. Carolina
Week 13 - vs. Buffalo
Week 14 - at Kansas City
Week 15 - at San Diego
Week 16 - vs. Indianapolis
Week 17 - at Denver