July 22, 2014

Free NFL Pick: 2014 Oakland Raiders Team Preview & Win Total Pick

The Oakland Raiders have gone 4-12 in each of the last two seasons. Oakland showed promise early last year, but that promise faded away quickly. This is a franchise that has a made a habit out of making bad draft picks and bad offseason acquisitions. Matt Flynn was their big acquisition prior to last year, and he was so bad he didn’t even make it to week six without getting cut.

Darren McFadden showed tons of potential in the backfield during his time with the Raiders, but he couldn’t stay healthy. McFadden’s constant injuries really held back this team, and he flirted with leaving the team before eventually re-signing for a one-year deal worth $4 million.

Oakland RaidersOakland doesn’t lack star power, but they do have some massive holes in their depth chart. As an NFL team, it’s tough to be a consistent winner if there are certain parts of your team that are glaring weaknesses. Are those weaknesses still there, or will this Raiders team surprise in 2014? Let’s take a look.

2014 Oakland Raiders Offense

McFadden has started 26 games in three seasons for the Raiders, so counting on him isn’t a great idea. Fortunately for Oakland, they now have Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield as well. He might not be quite the player he was a few years ago, but he does give the team a well-rounded running back who can both catch it well and block effectively out of the backfield on passing downs. MJD averaged just 3.4 yards per carry last year, but it would have been hard for anyone to find much running room behind that Jacksonville offensive front.

One of Oakland’s major question marks is at the quarterback spot. It’s been a very long time since the Raiders had a reliable signal caller. Anyone who watched Matt Schaub last year in Houston has to question whether he is really the answer in Oakland. Schaub’s numbers have gradually declined in Houston, and now he has less weapons around him than he had in the past. Derek Carr might get a chance here too, but it will take him time to develop.

I’m not a fan of Oakland’s wide receivers either. The Raiders are relying on James Jones, Denarius Moore, and Rod Streator. Jones looked great in Green Bay, but Aaron Rodgers can make just about anyone look great. He’s the main guy for Oakland, and I don’t think he is a good number one option.

Oakland’s offense has tons of question marks, and it’s hard for me to imagine this group improving in any significant way in 2014.

2014 Oakland Raiders Defense

The Raiders defense was 28th in the NFL in points allowed per game in 2012, and they were 29th in 2013. Dennis Allen is a defensive-minded coach, but the Raiders defense hasn’t been able to improve in his time with the team thus far. Khalil Mack was the team’s top draft pick, and I’m very high on him. Mack dominated in every game during his college career. He dominated against big name teams just the way he did against smaller schools. He is an intense competitor who should be the guy for this defense to build around for many years to come.

Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith, Carlos Rogers, and Tarell Brown are all newcomers who could make an impact right away for the Raiders on defense. It’s clear that the Raiders wanted to focus on this side of the ball in the offseason, and I do believe that should help them start to move the needle in the right direction. Oakland needs to establish an identity as a defense, and they should be able to do that with their 2014 roster. Still, this isn’t going to turn into a top ten defense in the NFL overnight. The Raiders will likely struggle against good passing attacks. Oakland is headed in the right direction here, but don’t expect miracles.

2014 Oakland Raiders Schedule

Week 1- @New York Jets

Week 2- Houston

Week 3- @New England

Week 4- Miami (in London)

Week 5- BYE

Week 6- San Diego

Week 7- Arizona

Week 8- @Cleveland

Week 9- @Seattle

Week 10- Denver

Week 11- @San Diego

Week 12- Kansas City

Week 13- @St. Louis

Week 14- San Francisco

Week 15- @Kansas City

Week 16- Buffalo

Week 17- @Denver

What did Oakland do to get this tough of schedule? Cole Ryan of BangtheBook rates the Oakland Raiders schedule as the single toughest in all of football.

2014 Oakland Raiders Free Win Total Pick: Under 5

Some books are showing 4.5 at plus money, but others have 5 as an option. I like the under at either number, but I like it much better at 5. Oakland’s offense is still a total disaster. In fact, they might be worse on offense than they were last year. A decent defense won’t be enough for this team, especially with the kind of schedule they have in front of them. Expect another long season for Raiders fans.

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