It’s going to be a strange final year in Oakland for the Raiders. The franchise was homeless for a brief period earlier this season as they couldn’t come to an agreement to stay in Oakland, and they flirted with the idea of playing elsewhere. The Raiders looked at moving into different stadiums in the Bay Area and California as a whole, but at the end of the day they decided to play one last year in Oakland. That will likely mean only a nominal home field advantage in the final year before this franchise heads to Las Vegas.
Will the Oakland Raiders Make the Playoffs in 2019?
Oakland is once again the longshot in the AFC West per the NFL betting odds. While the Raiders did get better in the offseason, they are still significantly behind every other team in the division. Kansas City and the LA Chargers were both 12-win teams last season, and Denver is a potential playoff sleeper this year. It’s very possible that the Raiders fail to beat any of their division rivals this season.
Breaking Down the Raiders Offense
The Raiders made one of the biggest moves of the offseason when they traded for Antonio Brown. Brown has been the best receiver in the NFL this decade, but his antics have already begun to overshadow any possible impact. He has already threatened to walk away from the game if he is not allowed to wear the helmet he prefers, and he continues to snipe at former Pittsburgh teammates.
Provided he keeps his head on straight, Brown could be a huge difference maker for this offense. Amari Cooper was unable to have much success the last couple years before being traded to Dallas, but Brown has been a proven talent. He is a true No. 1 receiver when he’s locked in, and that should help out Derek Carr.
Carr had a solid 2016 campaign, but he has been an otherwise marginal quarterback during his five seasons in the NFL. He has only posted a QBR over 51 once, although it’s hard to put a lot of fault in his play last season. He lacked a big play receiver and a porous offensive line led to Carr being sacked 51 times.
The hope is that the offensive line will be better with a little more seasoning. The Raiders used top picks on tackles Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker last year and both players should be better this year, and the controversial Richie Incognito will be an improvement at left guard.
Jon Gruden drafted a potential workhorse running back with one of his three first round selections this year. Josh Jacobs should see a lot of carries behind a revamped offensive line, and the Raiders are hoping the Alabama product can be more Mark Ingram and less Trent Richardson. Jacobs must stay healthy as the depth behind him is nonexistent.
Breaking Down the Raiders Defense
Oakland had one of the league’s worse defenses in 2018. The Raiders had the misfortune of playing the Chiefs and the Chargers twice, but this unit couldn’t stop many of their opponents.
This side of the ball has seen a lot of change too, and three of their first four picks were used on defenders. Clelin Ferrell was a head-scratching selection at No. 4, but he should help improve a front that couldn’t supply much pressure.
The secondary saw the biggest overhaul with the Raiders selecting safety Johnathan Abram in the first round and following that up by taking cornerback Trayvon Mullen in the second round. They added Lamarcus Joyner from the Rams too, so they have a lot sunk into their defensive backs with 2016 1st round pick Karl Joseph and 2017 1st Round Pick Gareon Conley still on the roster.
Of course, they wouldn’t be the Raiders without taking on multiple players with character concerns. They fulfilled their destiny by signing Vontaze Burfict to be their middle linebacker this season.
Louis Riddick is one of the sharpest analysts in the NFL, and his insistence that Carr will have a solid season is worth taking into account. However, even if Carr does have the best year of his career, I don’t see the Raiders finishing better than 7-9.
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