When you look at the landscape of the AFC, the Oakland Raiders could see themselves fighting for a late fight for a playoff spot. Depending on how they fare early, the Raiders could bring one last hurrah in Oakland. Now, we already know the Patriots, Chiefs, and Browns remain the favorites to contend. Under those teams, you have squads that could surprise. The Raiders need to watch the entire conference.
2018 Record: 10-6
Threats: Luck and Swarming Defense
By far, the leader of the defense remains Darius Leonard. Leonard gives the Colts their bite. Look for him to make plays all over the field. With the arrival Justin Houston, the Colts improve an already strong pass rush. Houston gives teams another issue, a familiar one. If Kolton Miller does not play up to acceptable standards, Justin Houston will attack Derek Carr.
“I feel like just being a leader and just being who I am, I am just going to be me,” Houston said back in April, early in the team’s offseason workouts. “Hopefully the team, we both can feed off that.”
As mentioned, Andrew Luck returned his elite status. After a dominant 2019, the Raiders need to remember what the humbling loss he served them last year. Moreover, Luck enjoys new weapons. Not to mentions, another year of playing behind a stout offensive line.
After only one season, Quenton Nelson evolved into the league’s best guard. Against the Raiders, he faces a seasoned Mo Hurst. Where Nelson success is the ability to manhandle tackles. In all honesty, he needs no help with tackles. With that said, if Hurst can win with pure speed, that could negate Nelson’s strength advantages.
For years, the Raiders hoped DL Denico Autry would grab a starting spot. When he played, he excelled. Yet, the team allowed him to walk. While he received a decent raise, the numbers did not blow minds. With Autry, he combines quickness and heavy hands to stun much larher tackle. Derek Carr needs to watch the middle of the field.
In essence, the Raiders will need to contend with the Colts. Not only on the field, but also in the standings. In 2019, these two teams will probably have intertwining stories.