Poor divisional play has haunted the Silver and Black since their Super Bowl win over the Bucs but the Raiders showed signs of life in 2015, going 3-3 vs. the West
The AFC West is as wide open right now as it has been since 2011, when all four teams finished within a game of .500 straight-up. Oakland was 8-8 SU that season, narrowly missing out on a division title by virtue of a tie-breaker against Tim Tebow and the Broncos. It would have ended an eight-year playoff drought that has since stretched to 13 but this year, Raider Nation looks ready to contend.
LAST YEAR’S RECORD & 2016 NFL FUTURES
Win-Loss: 7-9 SU and 8-8 ATS
Over/Under: 8-6-2 O/U
Noteworthy: Only one NFL team, the Browns (18-60 SU), owns a worse divisional record than the Raiders (24-54 SU) since 2003.
Derek Carr and WR Amari Cooper will look to build on Cooper’s 1,000-yard rookie campaign and the Raiders will continue to lean on RB Latavius Murray, who proved to be a workhorse with 266 carries plus 41 receptions. Michael Crabtree (85 for 922 yards; 9 TDs) was also a big part of the offense and the hope for O-Co Bill Musgrave is that if Carr can start forcing opponents to respect the pass, it will open up room for the run game to be more productive.
The Raiders spent their first three draft picks on defense where they were consistently average, save for team sacks leader Khalil Mack (15.0). The problem was that when QBs did get of the ball, Oakland was atrocious at tackling (29th in YAC). Make a point to check S Karl Joseph’s status in training camp, as he recovers from a torn ACL.
Oakland was 5-3 SU/ATS against .500 or worse opponents last season including home wins over the Ravens and Chargers. They’ll have a legitimate shot at grabbing early wins this year vs. Atlanta (Week 2), Tennessee (Week 3) and San Diego (Week 5) but thier December schedule (Bills, Chiefs, Chargers and Colts) will likely determine if this team is ready to take the next step. It’s all capped off with a Week 17 road date against the Broncos and that will be thier third divisional road game in four weeks. Oakland cleared their modest SWT by 1.5 games last year and so far, they’ve been one of the more active “Over” plays in the off-season.