The 2014 NFL season promises to be an interesting one for the Oakland Raiders. In that spirit, here are some bold predictions for their future.
Darren McFadden completes a full season for the first time
The patience has pretty much worn out for Raider fans regarding Darren McFadden. The former first round pick came in with so much promise as a rookie but ever since has not been able to stay healthy. He has never played more than 13 games in six season. Well that will change in 2014. Thanks in large part to diminished expectations and also the presence of Maurice Jones-Drew who will share the carries, McFadden will finally break his dubious streak and make it through all 16 regular season games without a significant injury.
Khalil Mack and Justin Tuck help Raiders reach top 10 in sacks
If there should be big expectations for the coming NFL season anywhere on the Oakland Raiders roster, it must start with their defense. Through free agency and the draft they have made a slew of notable addition, particularly to their front seven with veteran pass rushers Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley and rookie first round pick Khalil Mack. That new core, at least on paper, gives Oakland something they haven’t had in a long time which is a stable group of players who can get after the quarterback. With help from Pat Sims and Antonio Smith in the middle, not only will they spark an improvement for the defense, but the Raiders will actually finish the season ranked in the top 10 for quarterback sacks.
Derek Carr starts at least four games in relief of Matt Schaub
Make no mistake. The Oakland Raiders coaches and front office are united in the belief that nobody but Matt Schaub is the starting quarterback for this NFL season. It’s why they traded for him. They believe he gives them the best chance to win despite lingering doubts he can rebound from his ugly final year in Houston. That being said, Schaub also is going to be facing some very tough pass rushes just in the AFC West and will stand behind an offensive line chalked full of castoffs from other teams like Donald Penn, Kevin Booth and Austin Howard. That could result in him taking a lot of hits and as a byproduct some injuries. In light of this, the Raiders, ready or not, will get a sneak peak at their future when rookie Derek Carr steps in to relieve Schaub as a temporary starter during the season. Set the line at four games.