NFL Preview- Oakland Raiders
Wrapping up the AFC West, we head to Oakland. Since losing Super Bowl XXXVII, the Raiders have been in a perpetual rebuilding stage and have not even sniffed the playoffs in that time span. Entering his third season as head coach, Dennis Allen is looking to a large of free agent additions to get this franchise into the playoffs for the first time in twelve seasons.
Matt Schaub is one of those free agent acquisitions that was brought to get Oakland back to playoff contention. The quarterback is himself looking to bounce back from the dismal year he had last season-- his last in Houston. Schaub isn't the long-term answer, as the franchise feels they drafted their future QB in Derek Carr.
When healthy, Darren McFadden is one of the most explosive running backs in the game. The problem is he has never been able to stay healthy. They added Maurice Jones-Drew through free agency. Jones-Drew is also one of the best backs when healthy-- even though that hasn't been the case the last two years.
James Jones was brought in to play alongside Rod Streater and Denarius Moore at wide receiver. The Raiders are continuing to look for an answer at tight end. Oakland hopes that rookie Jake Murphy from Utah is that answer.
Defensively, the Raiders added Carlos Rogers, Antonio Smith, and Lamarr Woodley in free agency, as well as, drafting Khalil Mack to improve the defense. Justin Tuck was also brought in to help with the pass rush. They are joined by returning starters Nick Roach and Charles Woodson.
Let's look at their 2014 season:
Week 1- The season doesn't get off to a very good start as they lose to the New York Jets, who have found their starter in Geno Smith. Oakland starts 0-1.
Week 2- Matt Schaub faces his former team in his first home game. They use their running duo to outdo Houston's Arian Foster. Raiders are now 1-1.
Week 3- Oakland heads to New England and gets the schooling from Tom Brady. They drop to 1-2.
Week 4- They next host Miami. After a close match, Ryan Tannehill pulls off the win. Oakland loses again, now 1-3.
Week 5- Oakland reaches their bye week.
Week 6- They host the Chargers and find a way, as they tend to do, to pull off the upset. Oakland improves to 2-3.
Week 7- The Raiders next host the Arizona Cardinals. Schaub struggles against a tough defense. Raiders lose and drop to 2-4.
Week 8- They get back to winning when they travel to Cleveland. Oakland gets to 3-4.
Week 9- After a win, the Raiders head to Seattle and get a beatdown. They drop to 3-5.
Week 10- Oakland hosts Denver and struggle against an improved Broncos' defense. The defense also struggles to stop Peyton Manning and company. The Raiders fall to 3-6.
Week 11- They head to San Diego and drop a tough game. After the Chargers earn the split, the Raiders keep dropping to 3-7.
Week 12- Raiders host Kansas City and that dangerous pass rush. Raiders keep losing and are now 3-8.
Week 13- They head to St Louis to face the Rams who have already lost Sam Bradford for the year. Oakland ends their losing streak and gets to 4-8.
Week 14- They host San Francisco and take a huge loss. They are now 4-9.
Week 15- Raiders head to Kansas City and get swept by the Chiefs. Oakland is now 4-10.
Week 16- Oakland faces Buffalo at home. The Raiders get themselves a nice win and are now 5-10.
Week 17- They close out the season on the road in Denver. The Broncos get the big win to earn the top seed and Oakland is out of the playoffs again. The Raiders finish the season at 5-11.
The Raiders added some weapons on both sides of the ball to get better but aren't quite ready to take that next step. They might a year or two away from reaching the playoffs, if they stick to their overall plan and show some patience.