Grant’s Slants: Raiders Eye Future

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Raiders Draft Prospect: WR CeeDee Lamb
Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb (2) makes a one-handed catch but is out of bounds during the second half of a college football game where the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) defeated the UCLA Bruins 49-21 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

As the Super Bowl approaches, fans  see the cream of both conferences rise to the top. As fans of a team not actively rising to the top in the NFL playoffs, it could be a great time to start evaluating how the Raiders matchup to the top tier of NFL teams. 

The Raiders need a better WR1.

Watching the elite wide receivers of the Divisional Round has been entertaining without a doubt. But, it also instills the thought that Tyrell Williams may never come close to the level of play players like DeVante Adams or DeAndre Hopkins are producing. To be fair, Williams was banged up for a major part of the season, but appears poised to be one of the best WR2s next season, as long as the Raiders can find (draft) the Batman to the Raiders’ wide-receiver-Robin.

Not playoff ready.

The Raiders faced five of the Divisional Round teams this season (Chiefs, Titans, Vikings, Packers, and Texans), and were outscored 213-102. The Raiders lost to every playoff team they faced in the regular season. Should Oakland have snuck into the Wild Card round, it would be safe to assume that the excitement of making the playoffs would be the high point of the season, as the playoff game would not go well.

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Defense works.

While all expected Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens to roll over the Tennessee Titans, the Titans had other plans. The Titans constantly had Jackson frazzled, allowing him to complete only 31 of his 59 pass attempts en route to their 28-12 victory. Coincidentally, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has thrown for less than 100 yards in both of his playoff starts this postseason. Having an incredible rushing attack, as the Titans do, has helped immensely as well. The Raiders are closer to having a bellcow running back than they are to establishing a stifling defense.

Every team is different.

 Yes, the Titans were able to beat the #1 offensive team in the regular season with their quarterback making 14 pass attempts and completing only seven of them for 88 yards. No, not every team could do this, especially with the pass-first style the NFL has been adopting over recent years. In order to succeed, the Raiders must continue to find their identity. It can be forgotten that the Titans started the season at 2-4 and appeared clueless. Then, the team found what works and have since defeated the New England Patriots and the Ravens throughout their playoff run. 

A positive finish.

The Raiders were 6-4 before losing five of their last six. The first half of their season was considered one of the most difficult stretches in the league. While things did eventually fall apart, the Raiders showed an incredible amount of grit and determination. The Raiders are trending upwards, and with two first-round draft picks this year, the team’s potential is through the roof. 

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