Just as the Kansas City Chiefs emerged as AFC West Champions for the first time since 2003, the Oakland Raiders became the first team in NFL history to sweep their division and miss the playoffs. Both clubs are equipped with young talent, veteran leadership and drive from the coaching staff, but will also have to keep a close eye on the high-powered San Diego Chargers.
Phillip Rivers and company were left on the sidelines from postseason play due to a special teams unit that forced blood to shoot out of the eyes of Bolts’ fan base and several injuries.
The Denver Broncos are lurking in the shadows right now, without a definitive answer at quarterback and in a new regime being built in the midst of the lockout. Hope is on the horizon, but it’s safe to say high expectations probably aren’t with the Mile High for 2011.
Oakland Raiders: State of The Franchise
The Silver and Black have been the laughing stock of the NFL the past eight seasons. Time and time again the team failed to make smart, level-headed decisions—whether it was the draft, free agency, trades, contract offers or coaching shifts. But there’s light under the tunnel. Something sparked last season. It wasn’t enough to make fans want to toss confetti into the air, but it might have been just what the Raiders needed to get back into the thick of things.
Hiring then-offensive coordinator and now-head coach Hue Jackson led to a jaw-dropping successful performance in the 2010 NFL Draft, where the likes of middle linebacker Rolando McClain, defensive lineman LaMarr Houston and Jared Veldheer were snagged up, before quarterback Jason Campbell was shipped over via trade for a Black Friday type of deal with Washington. Campbell didn’t put up staggering numbers in his first season with Oakland, but he did deliver stability, versatility and leadership to the offense.
Defensively, things are in tip-top shape with veteran leadership from Kamerion Wimbley and Richard Seymour.
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