Prediction Time: 2012 Oakland Raiders

By Josh Walfish

The remaining 30 teams in the NFL are ready to kickoff their 2012 campaigns, so we take a look at where the Oakland Raiders could be come December.

Week 1 (San Diego Chargers): Oakland will get a dog fight in its opener, as they play host to San Diego. The Raiders’ offense will be the difference in this game and the better Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden play, the more likely it is Oakland will start 1-0. San Diego will struggle to establish the run and McFadden will run over the Chargers and Oakland will escape with a close victory. 1-0

Week 2 (at Miami Dolphins): Miami is terrible and Oakland isn’t. The Raiders’ defensive line will be all over Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the Dolphins’ offense. Another big day for McFadden will help carry the offense and Palmer will throw a couple of touchdown passes as well. 2-0

Week 3 (Pittsburgh Steelers): Since Pittsburgh is coming to Oakland, this will be a close game. However, the Steelers’ defense will be too much for Palmer and the offense and Ben Roethlisberger will pick apart the shaky Oakland secondary. 2-1

Week 4 (at Denver Broncos): Peyton Manning became a household name by dissecting defenses and with Oakland’s secondary still struggling, the trip to the Mile High City won’t be pretty. This will probably be the most lopsided loss of the season for Oakland, but with a bye week next, they’ll be able to regain their composure. 2-2

Week 6 (at Atlanta Falcons): Going to the East Coast is never easy, but Matt Ryan is dominant in Atlanta. That won’t change in this offensive shootout as Ryan and McFadden trade scores in the first half, before the Falcons defense makes a couple of critical stops in the fourth quarter. 2-3

Week 7 (Jacksonville Jaguars): This game is going to come down to the passing of Blaine Gabbert. Oakland will score in the mid-30s and they will squeak out a win at home in a surprisingly tough test. 3-3

Week 8 (at Kansas City Chiefs): Kansas City has a couple of holes, Oakland should be able to exploit. McFadden will have yet another dominant game and that will be the difference in a close win on the road. 4-3

Week 9 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Tampa Bay is a victim of circumstances and a tough division will cause the confidence to waver a tad. Oakland takes advantage of home field and blows out the Buccaneers. 5-3

Week 10 (at Baltimore Ravens): A trip to the East Coast is bad enough, couple that with playing the best defense in the AFC and a resurging offense, it’s trouble. The Ravens continue their push for a Super Bowl by rolling over the Raiders in style. 5-4

Week 11 (New Orleans Saints): New Orleans throws the ball about as well as any team in the NFL and Oakland has issues in the secondary. This game will be high scoring, but the Raiders don’t have the firepower to match the Saints score for score. 5-5

Week 12 (at Cincinnati Bengals): We will know a lot about Cincinnati by this time, but Andy Dalton will probably have a sophomore letdown and Oakland will take advantage. Palmer will be pumped for his return to Paul Brown Stadium and will throw for three scores and walk out with the win. 6-5

Week 13 (Cleveland Browns): A rookie quarterback with very few weapons is not normally a good combination. The Raiders will disrupt Brandon Weeden enough to squeeze out a tough 10-point win and keep their playoff dreams alive. 7-5

Week 14 (Denver Broncos): Playing with confidence and at home, Oakland will come out and give Denver a good fight. However, Manning and his uncanny ability to take defenses apart will just be too much for the Raiders to handle. 7-6

Week 15 (Kansas City Chiefs): The game’s in Oakland and the Raiders will be out for blood as they make a push towards a wild card spot. Palmer will have his best game of the season and the passing game will carry Oakland to victory. 8-6

Week 16 (at Carolina Panthers): Oakland will continue to surge towards the playoffs with a rare win on the East Coast. The linebackers will step up and contain Cam Newton on the ground and McFadden will run all over the Panthers. 9-6

Week 17 (at San Diego Chargers): With the playoffs on the line, San Diego defends its home field and Philip Rivers will dissect the secondary. It will be close again, but without the support of the Black Hole, Oakland falters to a respectable record of 9-7.

Have an opinion of your own? Post a comment and tell me where I’m wrong.

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