3-2, 2nd AFC West
Is This Offensive Line Still Top 5? - While Oakland has downgraded their wide receivers, defense, and running game, it is fair to ask if the line has suffered as well. This team was going in the right direction, but the team has struck some odd moves of late. This was a top five line over the last two seasons, and that remains somewhat the same. Donald Penn is hitting the end of his career, but still a punishing lineman. They added through the draft, giving them some depth if anyone goes down. Both Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin are in good shape behind this line, and if Martin can’t run here, he likely can’t run anywhere. Can The Raiders Compete In The AFC West? - Oakland made the playoffs just two seasons ago, and all of a sudden they went spiraling out of control with bad management decisions. The Chargers are the elite roster in the group, while Denver still is a positive team. Kansas City is in a tough defensive stage, but still a very good offense. This is going to make it tough on Oakland, who got older, and worse. They have some tough out of division games against the Rams, Seahawks, Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals, which could dictate how their season goes. It is unlikely for the Raiders to contend in the division, unless other teams just completely underperform. Will Amari Cooper Bounce Back? - Amari Cooper struggled in 2017, and injuries may have had something to do with that. He had a knee sprain, ankle sprain, and concussion all throughout the season. The Raiders also taking a major step backwards does not help. Cooper is going to be the go-to guy in this offense, which Jon Gruden has already stated. They will need to draw some of the focus off of him, which is mainly a reason for why Michael Crabtree had so much success over the last few seasons. Going on year four, Cooper is really going to need to ball out. How Bad Is The Khalil Mack Trade? - Khalil Mack is the best defensive player in football, and Oakland traded him for picks instead of paying him. Hard to give a high grade on that trade, when you do not have any given talent already established. Arden Key and Maurice Hunt might be up and coming players for Oakland, but we will need to see them in regular season action first. The Mack trade is going to cause an immediate downgrade to their defense, and at the moment we have no clue if the first round picks received will turn into anything in the future, which is why these types of deals are frowned upon. Why Has Oakland Gotten Older? - Oakland was in the midst of a prime rebuild, and all of a sudden things have aged poorly. They added a 33-year-old Jordy Nelson, who coming in as a number two is not all that appealing these days. There is nothing against Marshawn Lynch, as he showed us last season he could still play, but the volume was down. If this was because of Lynch’s age then there is a problem, if not he should be a go for Gruden and his old school offense. Regardless, Oakland has gotten older at running back and wide receiver, which isn’t optimal.