The Oakland Raiders are the new media darlings of the NFL with so much of the hefty expectations being a direct result of such coverage.
After suffering through 13 seasons without a playoff berth, the 2016 squad posted a 12-4 record behind their franchise quarterback and MVP hopeful, Derek Carr. Only to have a late-season injury to Carr derail the Raiders just as they finally made it to the playoffs which resulted in an underwhelming exit, to say the least.
The media, fans, and pundits are piling on after the stellar 2016 effort but can the Raiders meet such lofty expectations? The short answer is yes. Here’s my prediction for this squad which is loaded with talent, especially on offense, and led by one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL.
The Silver and Black will win the West
In spite of making the playoffs last year and posting an exceptional 12-4 record, the Raiders have one obstacle that they must overcome in order to dominate the AFC West, the most difficult division in the NFL; the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Raiders/Chiefs rivalry is perhaps the most storied in the league. Looking back at the great games played by such legendary names like Lamonica, Dawson, Stroud, and Wells, it is hard to conjure up a more contested matchup of two NFL teams and this season will be no different.
Two of the Raiders’ four losses last year were to the Chiefs, and if anyone thinks that the Andy Reid-led Chiefs are going to lay down this year, then those people are mistaken. Andy Reid is one of the best coaches in the game and led by Alex Smith, the Chiefs are a smash mouth, tough, and competitive team that takes “Raiders Week” more seriously than any other game in the season.
My prediction is the Raiders will split the series with the Chiefs, losing at home and eeking out a last minute victory in Kansas City. The Raiders will end the season 11-5 and win the AFC West crown for the first time since 2002. Oakland will go on to play Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for the AFC title game. Who wins that game? All I can say is that the ‘Tuck Rule’ game from 2002 will be in the forefront of every fan of the Silver and Black!