Every single Oakland Raiders fan who reads this title will probably cringe. I mean who can forget the lead we had on the Detroit Lions last year. Playoffs in the Bay! A possible rivalry game against Pittsburgh! Maybe a playoff debut for Daren McFadden! Ok, maybe the last one was a little far fetched. Unfortunately for the Raider Nation that was not how things played out. Late in the game our secondary folded at the hands of a team who typically sported fans with bags on their heads, and the Detroit Lions went on to become a playoff team for the first time since 1999. What did the Lions do to that Oakland could not? What was the missing piece?
The truth is there are many similarities between these two teams. The Lions and Raiders both sport defensive linemen who physically dominate the opposing side. The secondaries both yielded to starting and second string QBs (Raiders – Tim Tebow, Lions – Matt Flynn). The receiving corps of Detroit were anchored by freakishly athletic Calvin Johnson(Al Davis’s dream wide receiver), and significantly aided by veteran Nate Burleson and rookie Titus Young. Oakland had no Megatron, but a speedy Jacoby Ford and a coming out season for Darius Heyward-Bey didn’t hurt. Not to mention rookie Denarius Moore’s meeting of training camp expectations. What Oakland lacked and Detroit had was an offensive playmaker.
Darren McFadden has been fighting the injury bug for what seems like forever. However, if he can stay healthy for the upcoming season I don’t see why he cant do for Oakland what Mathew Stafford did for Detroit. Stafford was not only able to finally show the world what Calvin Johnson was truly capable of, but he also helped make up for the Lions poor running game. McFadden staying healthy, in my opinion, would have a similar effect on Palmer. Carson will have less attention on him, more time in the pocket due to the fact that Darren McFadden is amazing at pass blocking, less chance of being injured (for those of you who doubt his knee and elbow), and a great pass catching running back to throw to.
The 2012 Raiders will have an offense, barring any major injuries, ranking among the elite in the NFL. This offense might be just enough to claim a playoff spot, but if the New Orleans Saints taught us anything its that: it might cost a little extra but the defense makes or breaks Superbowl teams. If the Raiders don’t strike gold in the off-season they very well could be watching Peyton Manning win the AFC West. For now all we can do is win another Superbowl in Madden and ready ourselves for the moment Willie Brown announces our third round steal.
Topics: Calvin Johnson, Carson Palmer, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Detroit Lions, Jacoby Ford, Mathew Stafford, Nate Burleson, New Orleans Saints, Peyton Manning, Titus Young, Willie Brown