The Oakland Raiders finally showed some sense in the draft in 2010, can they take a step forward in the AFC West? Al Dannity says wait and see.
Off-season changes Who is this impostor pretending to be Al Davis? In the past few months we’ve seen the Raiders decide to stick by their coach for another season, get rid of a problematic quarterback, and make rational decisions in the draft. These aren’t the kind of actions associated with America’s most dysfunctional franchise.
Starting with the coach and despite his troubles, Tom Cable remains the best short-term fit for the Oakland Raiders. Another new coach with a new philosophy would have meant more instability, keeping Cable solves that problem. Discarding JaMarcus Russell was a great move; signing Jason Campbell was almost as clever. Campbell may not have fared well in Washington but his conservative play will keep Oakland alive in more games than his predecessor under center.
The draft was a big win for Oakland. Rolando McClain adds legitimate talent to the linebacking corps. Bruce Campbell, no not this Bruce Campbell, and Jacoby Ford are the kind of unpolished athletic freaks Al Davis loves. Having wasted high picks on such players in the past, the Raiders minimized the risk by waiting until later in the draft before snatching the duo.
Mark your calendar The autumn wind will be harsh on Oakland when it comes to NFL betting. I only like them to win one game, at home to St Louis, in the first five weeks. The big tests of the Raiders will come in weeks 6 through 8. Trips to the upwardly mobile 49ers and divisional rivals Denver will tell us a lot about the progress made before Pete Carroll’s new look Seahawks visit in week 8.
Keep an eye on the Raiders late in the season. The week 15 visit of Denver is winnable as too could be the visit from the Colts the following week, assuming Indianapolis has already made the playoffs and treats it like a pre-season game. As the Raiders finish at Kansas City, they could well end the season with three straight wins.
The verdict This franchise has a gifted defense, which has improved in the off-season. The Raiders arguably have the best kicking combination in the NFL with kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler. It will however be the offense that once again proves the Raiders’ undoing. Jason Campbell won’t lose Oakland too many games but he won’t shine in the clutch either. With little talent around him, bar tight end Zach Miller, Campbell won’t be able to engineer many game winning drives.
The bar has however been set so low it’s hard not to like the Raiders to show some improvement in 2010. If they win six games then it will represent the best season in Oakland since 2002. Take the over of +5.5 at -182 with Sports Interaction. The Raiders will inch forward in 2010.