Nothing like the last minute, eh? With the Raiders beginning the season on Monday, I am sliding in my 2012 season predictions. It can be hard to predict an entire season before each team has played a single game. But I am going to attempt to do just that.
As we all know, a lot can change throughout the season. But instead of just throwing out an arbitrary number based on how good I think the team will be, I am going one step farther and showing you how I came up with my prediction.
San Diego Mon 09/10
The Raiders are limping but healing into their season opener. The same can't be said for the Chargers. They will be without their starting running back Ryan Mathews, left tackle Jared Gaither, and wide receiver Vincent Brown. Last season the Raiders feasted upon the Chargers when they were without their starting left tackle. And that was without their best pass rusher, Matt Shaughnessy, in the lineup. They also had success on offense despite being without their most potent offensive weapon, Darren McFadden.
@ Miami Sun 09/16
The Dolphins typically have the Raiders number as they have won three of the last four meetings. But it isn't a situation where the Raiders come to town and cower at the sight of the aqua and orange. This Dolphins team is in shambles and will be starting a rookie quarterback. There will be growing pains.
Pittsburgh Sun 09/23
The Steelers have a suspect offensive line. But that has been the case for a while. It's long been their defense that has carried them and I expect that to be the same this season. This will be a close game that will likely come down to turnovers. I see the Raiders having more of them.
@ Denver Sun 09/30
The Raiders visit Denver for the first time in the Peyton Manning era. A lot of people either believe/hope that Manning's neck injury will have him not lasting past a coupe hits in the season. I am not among those. I think Manning will be Manning. However, the Broncos will be without Elvis Dumervil and DJ Williams for this game. Add to that the issues the Broncos have on that offensive line and the Raiders win the war in the trenches.
@ Atlanta Sun 10/14
The Raiders will be facing the Falcons following a bye week which will help. But they will also be making that dreaded east coast trip to face a solid team in the Falcons. These two teams match up well but the home game definitely favors the Falcons.
Jacksonville Sun 10/21
The Raiders will be back home to face the Jaguars. They are looking a little better these days. Maurice Jones-Drew is back and Blaine Gabbert is showing some of the potential that had him as a top draft pick. But they are still a ways away.
@ Kansas City Sun 10/28
There will be a few familiar faces in Kansas City awaiting the Raiders. The Raiders haven't lost in Kansas City since 2006. But that new defense in KC ends that streak this season.
Tampa Bay Sun 11/04
@ Baltimore Sun 11/11
It's another trip all the way to the east coast for the Raiders. This time to face that fierce Ravens defense. The result is to be expected.
New Orleans Sun 11/18
@ Cincinnati Sun 11/25
Carson Palmer travels back to Cincinnati to face the team for which he played eight seasons. He should show Andy Dalton and company that he still has it.
Cleveland Sun 12/02
The Browns will be starting a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back on an overall bad team. They are in line for another high draft pick.
Denver Thu 12/06
Peyton Manning and the Broncos come to Oakland. This time they will have a full defense. It's all Peyton will need to put the Raiders away.
Kansas City Sun 12/16
The Oakland crowd will be rocking for this one as the Raiders head into the home stretch. Matt Cassell is rattled and I have a feeling a weapon or two of his will be injured by this time as well.
@ Carolina Sun 12/23
This one will be tough. It's another east coast trip for the Raiders. They are also facing Cam Newton with another season under his belt. The Raiders will put Terrelle Pryor in a Cam Newton jersey in practice but that won't quite do it.
@ San Diego Sun 12/30
For the second season in a row, the Raiders meet up with the Chargers in the finale. This game may mean actually mean something and this time the Raiders don't allow the Chargers to end their season with a loss.
Overall record: 9-7
2nd in division, wildcard
Division winners: New England, Pittsburgh, Houston, Denver
Wildcards: Buffalo, Oakland
Division winners: New York Giants, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Francisco
Wildcards: Dallas, Detroit