The Pro Football Focus guys have put out their picks for who they see winning next year’s Super Bowl. As you might expect, a few of them picked the Patriots. Four of the seven picked them to continue to destroy every football fan’s love and faith in the game.
But a couple of other writers went with a more bold approach, picking the team that came within a Derek Carr leg injury of being the two seed in this year’s playoffs — The Raiders.
Here is what they had to say about their picks:
Sam Monson, Senior Analyst
This was the forgotten team of the 2016 season. The Raiders were one of the best sides in the AFC, and were looking to compete with the Patriots in that conference until one freak play saw them lose their season to a broken bone. Derek Carr was injured on just the second play of pressure against the Indianapolis Colts, and the only sack surrendered by his left tackle, Donald Penn, all season. The Raiders have a quality offensive line, weapons, and a young, talented quarterback to bounce back with. Their defense has talent, but was never able to quite play up to the sum of its parts this season. I think they should be clear contenders in 2017.
Nathan Jahnke, Director of Analytics
Oakland was already one of the best teams in 2016, but couldn’t reach its potential after quarterback Derek Carr went down with injury. The Raiders’ star players like Carr, WR Amari Cooper and edge defender Khalil Mack should be in their prime of their careers next season. They have a core 12 players who recorded 700 or more snaps in the 2016 season and earned an overall grade above 70.0—none of whom are set to be free agents this offseason. Not only are the Raiders not in danger of losing a key player, there is reason to believe the team will get better. Mario Edwards only played 36 snaps in 2016, but was one of their best players in 2015. OLB Aldon Smith should be reinstated from suspension. Both should make the front-seven even better. Oakland only has a few weaknesses coming into next season, and has the cap space to address some of those needs. That all adds up to a perfect storm for a memorable 2017 campaign.
The only other team chosen besides the Patriots and Raiders was the Texans. They were chosen by one writer. Let’s hope the rogue picks have it, because I think I speak for the plurality of this country when I say I don’t ever want to see the evil empire in New England raise another trophy as long as I live.