It's the midpoint of the 2012 NFL season which means it's time to check in with how the Raiders are doing.
They sit at 3-5 and are in the hunt for a playoff spot. After starting the season 1-3, while getting blown out in those three losses, they went 2-2 over the last four games with two close losses to the Falcons and Buccaneers.
The offense has been led by their Offensive MVP, Carson Palmer, and thus far he appears to be their saving grace. He is on pace for a career year which would put him over 4700 yards passing. He has done this despite an almost complete lack of a rushing attack as well as a lack of protection from the offensive line.
The defense has received a shot of adrenaline from Defensive MVP, Lamarr Houston of late. His first big play of the season came in the team's week four loss to the Broncos in which he ran about 50 yards downfield to recover a Demaryius Thomas fumble. He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for week seven in their win over the Jaguars thanks to his first sack of the season as well as forcing a fumble on Cecil Shorts III to end the game. Last week he blocked a field goal attempt and returned it for 34 yards.
The surprises on this team have come from our Impact Rookie Miles Burris, and Unsung Hero, Michael Huff.
Burris stepped in as a starter when Aaron Curry went down with injuries to both knees. He has played well enough to earn the right to keep that spot.
Huff switched to corner from free safety after both Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell went out with injuries. He went through some rough games early but has really come into his own. Now, Bartell has been activated from partial season injured reserve and Spencer has been placed on IR. The team feels good enough about Huff's play to keep him as the starter opposite Bartell and cut Pat Lee.
If the Raiders are to have success for the second half of the season, they need the offensive line to step up. Taiwan Jones will be taking over as the primary starter with Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson going down with high ankle sprains. The line has not done much in the way of opening running lanes and that must change in order for the Raiders to improve. Carson Palmer can't do it alone especially with the lack of protection he is receiving.
The Next Four games the Raiders travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens, come home to play the Saints, head to Cincinnati to face the Bengals, and them back home against the Browns. None of those games are gimme's as if any game would be for this team. They need to go 2-2 through that stretch if they are to have any hope of staying in the playoff race.
Thanks for watching everyone and hopefully the Raiders will give you plenty to watch the rest of the season.