2013 Oakland Raiders NFL Team Preview
Betting odds from 5dimes.com
Oakland is amidst the tumult of a rebuild, though how quick it may progress is really anyone’s guess still at this point. The Raiders will have a first year offensive coordinator in Greg Olson, and Olson is going to try to make better use of featured back Darren McFadden. McFadden was a first round pick in most fantasy leagues last year, but his campaign was mediocre.
A lot of McFadden’s shortcomings have to be blamed on a poor offensive line. Accordingly, Olson will likely seek to promote the passing game more this season, which will reduce McFadden’s carries.
Matt Flynn will be the Raiders QB this season and the 28 year old is a questionable upgrade over Palmer last season. While he is younger, he has started only two NFL games in his career. He is an accurate passer like his predecessor, but he’s going to have to adjust to being a full-time starter quickly. The unlikelihood of that prospect renders the Raiders likely to be one of the worst teams in the league again.
McFadden, for as talented as he is, averaged just 3.3 yards per carry last season. Tony Sparano is coaching the OL to provide McFadden with better blocking. As much as Olson may seek to promote the passing game, the Raiders realize their premier talent is McFadden. He seems to be injury prone, so the Raiders are hoping they are able to keep him on the field this year. He was the No. 4 pick in 2008, and the Raiders have been pleased with the result, but he’s only good if he’s on the field.
The Raiders released their best receiver in Darius Heyward-Bey to cut costs. Denarius Moore will be asked to step into his place, but losing Bey will only further hurt the offense. Moore doesn’t have a lot of experience, and he isn’t always in sync with his QB. Jacoby Ford has a ton of talent, both as a WR and a return man, but he’s coming off having missed an entire season. Rod Streater offers a lot of hope for the Raiders, and his impressive footwork should help running short routes for Flynn.
The defense is considerably more promising for the Raiders. Jason Tarver is back for his second season as coordinator, and he has an even better core group of defensive players than last season. He’ll try to force the action on defensive plays, with Pat Sims, Vance Walker and Jason Hunter. The trio are replacements for three higher priced vets, but Tarver expects to have the Raiders playing the kind of defense they did coming down the stretch of 2012.
The Raiders do have great special teams, but having one of the best kickers in Sebastian Janikowski and an explosive kick returner in Jacoby Ford, isn’t going to be a decisive enough advantage to make up for having a poor team.
The Raiders are really a team several years away from being much of a contender, and as it is, their best talent is one who other teams would likely never pay face value for, due to his injury history. The team cut costs, and in doing so they removed a number of key positional players. The team was better last year, and it won just four games; so what can Raider fans prime themselves for this season? The incremental improvement of McFadden and a promising 2014 rookie may be all there is.
Be sure to check out Maddux’s picks for this NFL season, as we line our bettors pockets once again in big fashion.