5. Oakland Raiders / AFC West
Dec 24, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws the ball against the San Diego Chargers during the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Surprised to see the Raiders here, instead of the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos?
While the Broncos are likely to come down several notches with Mark Sanchez as their likely starting QB now; Oakland has have been on the rise since they drafted Derek Carr, and he could very easily give the Raiders their first winning record since 2002 — the last time that they also made the Playoffs, losing to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Carr, along with former Alabama All-American WR Amari Cooper, and RB Latavius Murray; comprise the new “Triplets” (like the famously-named Dallas Cowboys trio of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith in the 1990’s) that now reside in Oakland.
Around the league last year, Carr was often compared to Super Bowl winning and 2 year league MVP quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Comparing the numbers from Rodgers’ 10th year and Carr’s 2nd year in the NFL, its scary to see how comparable these two are at two completely different points in their careers.
Aaron Rodgers Derek Carr
- 31 Touchdowns 32 Touchdowns
- 8 Interceptions 13 Interceptions
- 3,821 yards 3,987 yards
- 60.7% Completions 61.1% Completions
These numbers are almost identical. In only his second year, Carr has made a Pro Bowl and is looking to make his Raiders a playoff contender. However, as every fan knows, a team cant win games with just a good quarterback.
That’s why when you look at what the Raiders have done in Free Agency by adding former Seahawks LB Bruce Irvin, who will bring his aggressive tone to a young defense that features young superstar DE Kahlil Mack (15 sacks in 2015), and returning DT Justin Ellis, this is a defense that potentially could sky-rocket to the top in 2016.
The Raiders, similar to the Saints, are a younger team that appears to be on the rise. Fortunately, the Saints don’t have to play them in Oakland — at the legendary “Black Hole” — but still, this will not be a Sunday picnic for the Saints.
Next: Back in the Desert