Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I'm not quite sure how this happened, but for the first time in several years I feel like I have some kind of idea what's going on in the NFL. I didn't realize this until last weekend when I found myself making a convincing argument that the Raiders are going to the playoffs this season. Am I a deluded lifelong fan of the Silver & Black? Yes, but that doesn't mean that I'm wrong. Keep reading to find out why the Raiders are going to finish above .500, make the playoffs, and could take the AFC West.

The Raider's O-Line is a big question mark going into this season, but they signed a couple of guys this off season to create some competition for the tackle spots. Barnes is a devastating run blocker who cleared huge holes for the Jaguars rushing attack last season. Henderson showed a little something late in the season in 2008 and can provide Raider's QB JaMarcus Russell the time he needs to get the ball downfield. Robert Gallery didn't become the anchor of the line at left tackle that he was predicted to be, but is well on his way to becoming a Pro Bowl caliber guard.

The Raider's troika of running backs Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden, and Michael Bush will provide the necessary depth in the backfield to weather the punishment of a 16 game season. I'm predicting that McFadden lives up to the flashes of brilliance he showed last year and will rush for 1400 yards this season. Remember, you heard it here first.

Rather than regurgitate what has been written elsewhere about the Raider wide outs, I'll just give you a link to the bleacherreport breakdown. Teams are going to have pick their poison this season, stack the box to slow down the Raiders' running game and let JaMarcus go deep on that ass or commit to stopping the passing game and let the three headed monster of McFadden, Fargas, and Bush run buck-motherfucking-wild.

The Raiders' defense has some players, but has yet to come together as a cohesive unit. The big story right now is the addition of Richard Seymour to the defensive front. That is, assuming he plays for the Raiders this season.

The real deal though is that the AFC West is weak and whack. The Chargers won the division last season with an 8-8 record, LT has peaked as a premier NFL running back, he's getting long in the tooth and brittle and the Chargers weren't even sure they wanted him back this season. Merriman can't seem to stay out of the headlines; popped for steroid use in 2006 and now he's caught a charge for choking a 90 pound woman. Add in Rivers' bloated contract, the ham-fisted GM-ing of AJ Smith, and Norv Turner as head coach and that doesn't sound like a winning team.

As for the rest of the West the Chiefs are terrible and the Broncos are starting Kyle Orton at quarterback. This is a division that is ripe for the picking.

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