The Oakland Raiders will begin their 2017 campaign on Sunday morning then they travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans in week one of the regular season. In what is easily the most hyped up offseason since the Raiders went to the Super Bowl, Oakland has been frequently mentioned as a Super Bowl contender. And now we will find out if all of the talk was just that, talk, or if it’s something real.
But before the season starts, it’s time to get some predictions in. First up, game by game predictions.
This is a huge week one test for the Raiders. Tennessee isn’t a power house team but many believe it is trending in that direction. They’ve got a very good offense and a solid defense. It’s a huge test for a Raiders team who expects to be among the best in the league. If they want to meet those expectations, a large part of doing so will be winning in week one on the road at Tennessee.
I think the Raiders get the win primarily due to it being in week one. Marcus Mariota does not quite look fully healthy after breaking his leg last season and the Titans have had a slow start the past couple of seasons. If this game was in week 15, I might have a different opinion. Luckily for Oakland, of all the units who will take the field this Sunday, the Raiders offense is far more prepared and ready for greatness than any of the Titans units.
Back when the Raiders were among the league’s worst teams, opponents could just pencil in a win over Oakland most of the time. That’s where the Jets are as a franchise now. You never want to take a game for granted because it’s still the NFL and anything can happen but beating the Jets in week two should be a given for the Raiders. If it’s not, then we shouldn’t have ever been talking about the Super Bowl. It’s just a very, very bad team. Not much else need be said. Raiders can’t afford to lose this one and they won’t.
This one is tough and a lot of the reason for picking Washington to win is tied to the Raider schedule. With three out of the first four games on the road, you have to expect a stumbling block. Plus, Washington is better than many give them credit for and they’ve only upgraded this offseason, in particular with the signing of Terrelle Pryor. Don’t be surprised if Raiders fans are once again treated to a show of Pryor outrunning everyone else on the field, except this time it will be after he gets behind the poor Oakland secondary.
Most everyone is dismissing the Denver Broncos because of their quarterback situation. That makes sense to a degree but we can’t forget that they still have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Last season they were still a factor in the AFC West, even if they didn’t compete for the crown right up until the end of the year. This year, I expect them to take a step forward on offense and be more of a threat. And when the Raiders travel to Denver, the Broncos will be ready and will pull off the upset in a low scoring game that was dominated by the Denver defense.
Baltimore is trying to get back to their winning ways and only barely lost to the Raiders last season. This year, they are an improved team. The offense has improved with the addition of Jeremy Maclin, who matches up well against the Raiders corners. On defense, they solidified the secondary even more by adding Tony Jefferson and Brandon Carr. That should help them try and contain the dominant passing game of Oakland. This will be another close game but this time, the Ravens will pull out the win thanks to Maclin making himself one of Joe Flacco’s top targets.
Despite efforts every offseason to improve this team, it just seems like they are snake bitten. This year, they made some very nice draft picks only to have their first two picks get hurt. First round pick Mike Williams is still weeks away from being able to practice and it’s uncertain if or when he will be back. Forest Lamp, their second round pick, is out for the season with a torn ACL. Once again, the Chargers will look to Philip Rivers to carry the team by himself, and once again, his efforts to do so will fall flat. Raiders take a win at home against the Chargers in fairly easy fashion.
This is the game we’ve been waiting for. Kansas City is the monkey on the Raiders back that they’ve been waiting to take off. It’s the first of two games that could decide who wins the AFC West crown. If there is any group of people looking forward to this game more than Raiders fans, it’s the Raiders players and coaches. They know that Kansas City stands in their path to the AFC West crown and they are tired of being owned by a guy named Alex Smith. The Raiders come out strong and come away with a solid victory as they take one step closer to getting the monkey off of their backs.
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