2014 Oakland Raiders Season Preview and Predictions

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Aug 28, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen looks on during the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Final Predictions

Worst Case Scenario

Under a rookie quarterback the Raiders stumble out of the gate, dropping games in what is the easiest part of the schedule before their bye week following the Wembley game and failing to gain positive momentum they are challenged by what is a brutal slate for the bulk of their season after Week 5. Free agent signings turn out to be overaged busts like the cynics predicted and the Raiders struggle their way to another disappointing 4-12 season or worse.

Best Case Scenario

Derek Carr leads the team to much needed early victories against the Jets and Texans to start the season before picking up a victory at Wembley against the Dolphins to head into the bye 3-1 in the early mix for the playoff chase. Boosted with confidence a team mixed with proven veteran leaders and promising young rookies racks up wins over the Chargers and Chiefs in the tough AFC West. DJ Hayden returns while remaining healthy for the rest of the season, improving the Raiders secondary for the stretch towards January where Oakland finishes with a winning record and a spot in the playoffs for the first time since their infamous Super Bowl loss over a decade ago.

Final Word

It is truly impossible to gauge a realistic prediction for a team with as many question marks as the Oakland Raiders have. Nobody knows how veterans are going to play in the latter stages of their career in new systems, nobody knows if DJ Hayden will come back healthy and productive, nobody knows how the rookie class is going to perform in their first seasons and nobody knows how Derek Carr is going to respond to being the first rookie starter of the franchise since the NFL merger.

That being said, I don’t believe the Oakland Raiders are the worst teams in the NFL and I do buy into the notion that the influx of veterans into the roster is going to be more of a positive than a negative. Derek Carr falling into the second round was a blessing for the team and it appears the offense will rally around the rookie who might be the steal of the draft if he can answer the challenge of trying to become the long awaited solution to the team’s quarterbacking woes. Khalil Mack and Sio Moore give a promising outside pass rush to pair alongside former Super Bowl champions LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck, who will help a secondary that will be anchored by veteran safeties Tyvon Branch and Charles Woodson. The chemistry between veterans and rookies looking to prove the doubters wrong will be the key, along with tons of momentum if a turnaround is to be a reality. However I am buying what the Raiders are selling with this rebuild and feel that 2014 will be a year of positivity at a needed time for a franchise saddled with the ever present search for a new stadium in Oakland (or beyond).

Final Prediction: Raiders 8-8, miss AFC Wild Card by one game