The Oakland Raiders just seem to be getting older. They're a pre-retirement home for some of the NFL's best players of the last decade. The most recent acquisitions are Rod Woodson and Bill Romanowski. Both players bring Super Bowl leadership and aging bones to these Raiders. But the real focus this season will be on Jon Gruden's replacement, Bill Callahan.
#9 Oakland Raiders (10 - 6) First in the AFC West
Mild-mannered Bill Callahan replaces the second coming of the Anti-Christ. It will be interesting to see how the players respond, especially Rich Gannon, whose relationship with Chuckie was well documented. Speaking of Gannon, he missed some workouts due to his contract dispute. He says it's past history for him, but is that so for the organization?
The Good: Like a fine wine, Gannon gets better with age. This should prove to be his best year to date. With weapons like the ageless (and more buff) Jerry Rice, All-Pro Tim Brown, and Jerry "Don't call me Joey" Porter, he should once again put up Pro Bowl numbers. The running game is finally solid behind Charlie Garner. Charles Woodson is the best young cornerback in the game when he's healthy. And when you throw rookie Philip Buchanon in on the other side, the Raiders will be lethal at the corners. This team should not have a hard time being motivated because this may be their last shot at the Super Bowl.
The Bad: The run defense didn't get any better or younger in the off-season. We can only speculate how much Rice and the rest of the team have left in their tanks. I'd bet more on Rice lasting the whole season than Romanowski. They say a team's character is reflected by the coach. Well, Callahan is sort of like the anti-Chuckie. That may not translate well for a team that has lived on fire and brimstone.
The Ugly: Do the Raiders fans eat batteries or just throw them? It's gotta hurt being pelted by batteries - ask Dave Parker.
Synopsis: This is the second of 5 AFC teams with the best shot of reaching the Super Bowl. Although I have them listed ahead of Indy, I'd have to say that the Raiders have the more outside shot. That being said, I think you might see them in Pittsburgh this January. Actually, I'm betting you'll see them in Pittsburgh this January.