By Mike Lucas
Featured Columnist

The Oakland Raiders were one of the worst teams in the NFL last season, finishing up the year with a 4-12 record.

Offensively and defensively, the Raiders were a disaster, finishing in the bottom-half of the league in almost every important statistical category.

This offseason, the Raiders traded their starting quarterback Carson Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals and brought in three new quarterbacks to compete for the starting job: Matt Flynn (Seattle Seahawks), Tyler Wilson (Arkansas Razorbacks, rookie), and Matt McGloin (Penn State Nittany Lions, rookie).

Oakland has brought in a lot of defensive talent this offseason, signing defensive tackles Pat Sims and Vance Walker, linebackers Kevin Burnett, Nick Roach and Kaluka Maiava, and defensive backs Tracy Porter, Mike Jenkins and Charles Woodson.

After finishing last season as one of the worst teams in the NFL, the Raiders can only improve in 2013. Here’s their 2013 season preview.


Carson Palmer quietly had a very good season for Oakland last year, throwing for more than 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. Now that he’s gone, one of the new guys is going to have to step up and replicate that type of production, which won’t be easy.

Matt Flynn has the inside track to become the starter, and has shown flashes of productivity in the limited playing time he’s gotten during his career. Flynn is an accurate quarterback with pretty good arm strength and if given time, should be able to put up decent numbers as the starter. 

He hasn’t locked up the starting job yet, and until a starter is announced, it’s anyone’s game. Matt McGloin has looked impressive thus far throughout training camp, and it isn’t like Flynn hasn’t ever lost a QB competition to a rookie before. The winner of the competition will most likely be which ever QB commits the fewest turnovers.

When running back Darren McFadden is healthy, the guy is an absolute beast. There aren’t many backs in the league that are as big, fast, and strong as McFadden. He just needs to stay healthy (which he hasn’t proven he can) because Oakland is thin at the running back position. Rashad Jennings is McFadden’s backup, and he only averaged 2.8 yards per carry on 101 carries last season.

Oakland actually has a decent receiving core led by Denarius Moore and Rod Streater, who both had productive 2012 seasons. Losing tight end Brandon Myers and Darius Heyward-Bey will hurt, but the addition of Josh Cribbs and the emergence of second-year wide receiver Juron Criner should help negate their loss.

Oakland's offensive line was one of the best pass-blocking lines in the league last year, but were also one of the worst run-blocking lines in the league. 

The Raiders used their second-round pick on offensive tackle Menelik Watson who should help out the line and give them more depth. Watson is penciled in to start at right tackle in Week 1.


The Raiders defense can only improve from last year, especially with the new influx of talent they have brought in during the offseason.

Oakland’s defensive line took a hit this offseason, losing Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant in free agency. To replace these three, Oakland brought in Pat Sims and and Walker to pair up with young defensive ends Lamar Houston and Jason Hunter to remake their defensive line. 

Sims is known as a run-stopper, and Walker is known for being a versatile tackle. Add these two players skill sets next to two young and talented pass-rushers on the edge, and the Raiders defensive line could be solid next year.

Oakland deepest position may be linebacker thanks to the three linebackers they signed this offseason. Kevin Burnett, Nick Roach and Kaluka Maiava are all veteran players that have flown under the radar for the majority of their careers.

Oakland drafted linebacker Sio Moore in the third round of this year’s NFL draft, and he could learn a lot from these veterans. Roach will end up being Oakland’s middle linebacker come Week 1, and the other three linebackers will battle for the two outside linebacker positions.

The Raiders had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL last season, and bringing in Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter and Charles Woodson will definitely help the unit. Oakland also drafted cornerback D.J. Hayden with the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft. 

Jenkins and Porter are both talented players that have underachieved the past few years, and are looking to kick start their careers in Oakland. If they can play up to their potential, the Raiders secondary will be much improved in 2013.

2013 Prediction: 6-10

Oakland will be much improved in 2013 and their defense will keep them in a lot of games, but the Raiders just don’t have enough offensive fire power to keep up with the elite offenses in the NFL. 

The Raiders will be playing a lot of young players this season, and the team’s future looks bright for the first time in a long time.

Wins: Jacksonville, Washington, Philadelphia, @New York (Jets), Kansas City, @San Diego

Losses: @Indianapolis, @Denver, San Diego, @Kansas City, Pittsburg, @New York (Giants), @Houston, Tennessee, @Dallas, Denver


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