3. Oakland Raiders
Head Coach: Dennis Allen
2012 Record: 4-12
2012 Offense: 290 points scored, 26th in points, 18th in yards (8th passing, 28th rushing)
2012 Defense: 443 points allowed, 28th in points, 18th in yards (20th passing, 18th rushing)
QB Matt Flynn, DB Charles Woodson, DB Tracy Porter, S Usama Young, WR Josh Cribbs, LB Kevin Burnett, LB Nick Roach, DE Jason Hunter, CB Mike Jenkins, DT Pat Sims, DT Vance Walker, RB Rashad Jennings, P Chris Kluwe, CB DJ Hayden, T Menelik Watson
QB Carson Palmer, DE Richard Seymour, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, TE Brandon Myers, DL Tommy Kelly, DE Desmond Bryant, DE Dave Tollefson
Why 2013 will be better
In this case, “better” is a relative term that means the Raiders are in the process from emerging from years of irrelevance. The ever-moody Carson Palmer has been replaced by the enigmatic Matt Flynn, which will either solve the team’s quarterback needs for the next several seasons or else will result in emergence of Terrelle Pryor or Tyler Wilson. If the Raiders can get a full season out of Darren McFadden and production from their wide receivers, they could make most games tolerable for the Raiders’ faithful to watch.
Why 2013 will be worse
Matt Flynn has shown flashes, but is unproven and the Raiders might be expecting too much, especially given that Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. The defense is a patchwork of one year contracts while the Raiders absorb an ugly cap year after years of mismanagement. They’re taking care of their business in the right way, but it might well get worse before it gets better. The defensive line is still in need of serious help after last year’s second worst pass rush.
In all likelihood, Oakland is looking at a lost season as it recovers from years of cap and draft mismanagement. There is no easy fix for the problems the Raiders are facing, but once they get through the 2013 season, they are likely to emerge with a high draft pick and somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million in cap space to begin building the once proud franchise. Beyond McFadden, there are few reliable targets on offense, though Denarius Moore looks to be a potential star in the making. However, McFadden has missed 23 games in the past five seasons and could well be regarded as injury prone. The defense is a temporary patchwork with a talented secondary but a problematic front seven. As I have said before, I fully expect the Raiders to be atop the AFC West in the next three seasons if they stick to their rebuilding plan, but five or six wins represents an absolute ceiling for the 2013 Raiders.