As we are all aware, Derek Carr went down with a broken fibula during a week 16 blowout of the Colts last season which was the leading factor to the Raiders early exit from the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders lost the final game of the regular season to the Denver Broncos to drop their record to 12-4 moving into the playoffs. During the game with Denver, left tackle Donald Penn sustained a knee injury that would rule him out of their playoff game as well. Without an offensive lineman and the starting quarterback in a pass first offense, the Raiders lost 27-14 to a Houston Texans team that struggled all season and would’ve been an easy win for a healthy Oakland team.
Oakland suffered huge injuries late, which led to the derailment of what could’ve been a Super Bowl winning season for a team that has been near the bottom of the league every year before this resurgence of sorts last season. Had the team stayed healthy, we would’ve most likely saw an amazing game between the Raiders and the New England Patriots that I think Oakland would’ve won.
Heading into the new season, Derek Carr and Donald Penn are healthy making the Raiders a major playoff contender again. There’s also one more big name player that could make Oakland that much scarier for opposing teams. The rumors have been swirling for weeks and they’ve finally been proven true as the Raiders and Seattle Seahawks agreed to trade the rights to Marshawn Lynch and Lynch has agreed to terms with the Raiders. He’ll be in Oakland for the next two years. Lynch, an Oakland native, will look to add a depth to this offense and fill a hole that Latavius Murray left after leaving during free agency. Murray is a decent running back, but he thrived due to Oakland’s good run blocking ability as the Raiders ranked 5th in the league in run blocking. This will be a huge change for Lynch, who only had one season with run blockers ranking in the top 20. During that one season, “Beast Mode” averaged 5 yards per carry.
Even if Lynch is only contributing a few touchdowns on short yardage situations for the Raiders, that’s still more touchdowns than they’ve had in the past few years. The Raiders ranked 13th in red zone TD percentage at 58.62% this past season.If the Oakland Raiders stay healthy this year, there may be no stopping this team. We’ll get a chance to see a preview of the potential AFC Championship game this year on prime time as Oakland will face off with a New England team, who has added a lot of talent during the offseason as well, in a week 11 Monday night game in Mexico City.
If this Raiders team stays healthy, opponents are going to have a lot of trouble with matchups. Defensively, Oakland was among the best in the league last year. The Raiders offense was also a huge threat to defenses through the air and will look for more of the same this year. I think the Raiders should be the favorites to win the AFC Championship this season and they’re definitely my way too early Super Bowl pick.