From 2003 to 2015 the Oakland Raiders could only manage 63 wins. The Raiders were a team dubbed “The Team of the Decades”, yet for over a decade, winning and excellence shown on the field were a rare achievement. When the two most consistently good players on a team are the kicker and punter, wins will undoubtedly be hard to come by.
However, this narrative appeared to change in 2016. A miraculous Week 1 win over the New Orleans Saints kick-started what was a 12-4 season that ended the Raiders’ long playoff drought. This was the first time since 2000 that the Raiders amassed 12 wins and it was the first double-digit winning season since 2002. Needless to say, success was far from the norm in the East Bay.
Entering the 2017 season, the Raiders had the fourth-best odds to win the Superbowl and expectations were sky-high for the team to repeat the previous season’s success. However, problems ranging from inexperienced coaches to dysfunction in the locker room all became evident as the Raiders only won six games.
With the return of coach Jon Gruden and a host of new players, expectations are trending up once again. Oakland’s load of games in 2018 will also be working in their favor as they rank twenty-ninth in strength of schedule per CBS.
Recently on NFL Network, current analyst and former New England Patriot Willie McGinest gave his win-loss prediction for the Raiders.
Shockingly, McGinest didn’t have Oakland winning a game until their Week 4 contest with the Cleveland Browns. The following week McGinest had the Raiders losing to the Chargers to put the team at 1-4, then he has them winning six out of the next seven. By the time his 16-game prediction is done, the Raiders have a 9-7 record. However, as the segment ends McGinest has a change of heart and changes a Week 3 loss in Miami to a win.
All in all, (according to McGinest), if the Raiders finish with a 10-6 record, Raider Nation should be more than pleased. If Oakland is able to reach this marker, it will be a four-game improvement from last season. Ironically enough, in 1998 when Gruden first captained the Raiders ship, he overtook a four-win team and after his first year, they won eight games. Then after another 8-8 season in 1999, Gruden again helped to improve the Raiders by four wins as the team was crowned AFC West champs with a 12-4 record.
Raider Nation, what say you? Will Jon Gruden be able to work his magic once again with the Oakland Raiders and lead them back to the playoffs, or will it be a year of learning and speed bumps?