Oakland Raiders: Five Bold Predictions for the 2015-16 Season

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#1 – The Raiders will finish 8-8 and win the second Wild Card spot

The Raiders have not reached an offensive feat of a magnitude comparable to the first four predictions in quite some time. But this year, they have offensive pieces to make it happen. What might be a “bolder” prediction is predicting that they will finish at least .500 and could make the playoffs.

It’s that bold because the team hasn’t had a record above .500 since 2011, but since then, the team hasn’t won more than four in a season. And for playoffs, the team hasn’t sniffed the postseason since 2002 when they lost in the Super Bowl to the Buccaneers.

So why this year? What’s so different about this year?

Much like the offensive skill position players, it is opportunity. The team brought in a brand new coaching staff, and made a slew of offseason moves to improve the team. The team already had a young core in place, so it could be the season the team pounces in the AFC West and in the AFC in general.

Looking at the coaching staff one must look at the head man in charge in coach Del Rio. After spending nine seasons as the Jaguars’ head coach, amassing a 68-71 record, Del Rio jumped ship to become the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator. In Del Rio’s first year as DC the Denver defense ranked second in total defense. In his second year it ranked 19th, but in 2014 it jumped back up to third in the league. It is easy to say that while Denver had a solid defensive corps, Del Rio’s presence certainly helped mightily.

If we look at Del Rio’s time as just head coach of Jacksonville, one can see that he performed pretty well under the circumstances. In the nine years as head coach he finished at least 8-8 five times. He finished just short of that mark in 2009 with a 7-9 record. Jacksonville’s roster back then is very similar to what the Raiders have now, so it isn’t out of the question that Del Rio can bring his magic to Oakland.

As for the two new coordinators in town, both seem sound enough to put the team on the right track. New offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has had success in his career developing players. While most of his success came when Adrian Peterson was his running back, he still can provide a lot to the team and should improve the offense all together.

On the defensive side is former Seahawks linebacker coach Ken Norton Jr. This is his first coordinator position, but looking at the success of Seahawks linebackers such as Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin and K.J Wright, one can infer that he will be able to succeed as a DC under Del Rio’s tutelage. Fun Fact: Norton Jr has always been new linebacker Malcom Smith’s linebacker coach ever since college. While Smith will be used in a rotation, it helps knowing you have a great relationship with your new DC.

All of the team’s player additions are noted in the opening slide. Looking at the additions, not only did the Raiders have one of the best offseasons in the NFL, but it was nice to see GM McKenzie shine for a change. Most people don’t give him credit, but he did a very nice job constructing the team this season.

This could be the Raiders’ year. With the AFC West somewhat depleted and the Raiders arrow pointing up, it is entirely possible that this is the year they break through and finally make the playoffs.