So the power rankings came out on Monday and it appears that the “experts” are expecting more power outages in Oakland as evidence by the Raiders 27th ranking. Many fans probably put little stock in what the “experts” say about their beloved team. Simply because it won’t change that fans belief that their team has just as much of a shot as any other NFL franchise and in some cases a better shot. But I at least want to see the “experts” predict good things of the Raiders. The Raiders are the team that the analysts seem to love to hate and therefore will never get a positive light shined on them in the offseason (All save John Clayton). These power rankings are solid proof of that.
I will delve into the many reasons why ranking the Raiders 27th is a gross injustice for this squad in a minute but first let me complete this thought: Trey Wingo and his fake name (that sounds like a nickname given to the guy on the And1 mix-tape tour that can hit a shot from downtown) is now officially on the list of filthy haters. I have steadily grown tired of his little smirk and snarkie little comments over the past few months but watching a clip on ESPN.com right after the rankings came out convinced me of his illegitimate, invalid, hatred for the Raiders. The show was almost over and the guest analysts Darren Woodson and James Hasty had said their thoughts on the rankings without a mention of the Raiders and their ranking (albeit too low). And then after the analysis seems to be over, Wingo just throws in there something to the effect that the Raiders should be dead last in the rankings as they are the worst team in the NFL hands down and asks Woodson and Hasty if they agree. They tow the company line and agree that the Raiders are the worst team in the NFL and Hasty adds that they are the worst run organization. I think that ESPN may not have agreed with this assessment because I just went to look at that same video and the clip was cut short just before Wingo could spout his blatent discimination and hatred for the Raiders. If you look at the video now, it stops rather suddenly without a wrap up and THAT is why. Trey’s point of view leads me to believe that Mark Schlereth being the other main guy on NFL live is no accident. No ESPN analyst spouts more anti-Raider propaganda than Schlereth. As he would compulsively say: “No question”. Ok, now moving on to the the breakdown of the power rankings.
I can’t completely disagree with some of the rankings but there are a few teams that were put ahead of the Raiders that there is clearly some serious glaring problems with. Amazingly, they actually thought there were 5 teams that were worse than the Raiders. But my amazement aside, here are the rankings along with the evidence of their misplaced “power”:
(While the first ten are not quite in the order I would put them, they all deserve good rankings and hence will not be discussed here)
10. Browns- Remember when I compared the Raiders to the Browns a few months back? Well I can see the Raiders having the kind of season that the Browns did last year but you can bet the Raiders won’t be ranked 10th in the following preseason. Browns are he lovable losers and the Raiders are the team everyone loves to hate. I just wanted to throw that in.
11. Vikings- this team had the #1 rushing attack in the league last year and failed to make the playoffs. AP faded down the stretch as well. I don’t see how they think anything will change with Tarvaris Jackson still behind center. Bernard Berrian will be more disgruntled than the unmentionable receiver and Jared Allen won’t put them over the hump all by himself.
12. Saints- This spot in contingent on last year being a fluke. I think it was and with some solid offseason moves including the recent addition of Jeremy Shockey they could prove just that.
14. Titans- They will NEVER succeed with Captain Wonderlic at QB throwing into the first row on every pass. Exactly how long will they continue to overrate this guy?
15. Buccaneers- The defense is and will continue to slow down. The “If”s are too many and Gruden seems to think that quantity outweighs quality as evidenced by his stable of mediocre Qbs and Rbs. That seat getting warm enough Chucky?
17. Cardinals- Come on! Cards get hyped every offseason and always disappoint. When are they going to stop predicting them playing in the top half of the NFL? (yes I know that technically 17th is in the bottom half but just by one)
18. Bills- They may be building the right way but they are a ways off. Much further away than the Raiders are. Both teams have a 2nd year QB. Oh, and their running back needs to stop running people over and then running away.
19. Texans- Look at the Texans getting some love. One year after their first season looking like an actual NFL team and they are the the sexy sleeper pick. You guys should know not to be so hasty. They have more building to do before they make any noise.
20. Panthers- The Panthers deserve better than this. They look like a solid squad. I am just sayin’.
21. Ravens- So let me get this straight. They went 5-11 last season, Ray Lewis and their defense is one year older, they have one good RB of whom is injury prone, they have a rookie out of a Div 2 school at quarterback and you think they will be better than the Raiders? The same Raiders that have a young and improving defense, THREE great running backs and a 2nd year #1 pick QB out of the SEC. And somehow the Ravens are 6 spots better than the Raiders? Sorry guys but I aint buyin’ it.
22. Broncos- So Apparently Brandon Marshall is less of a concern for the Broncos than Javon Walker is for the Raiders. Cutler seems to be a fine QB but he can’t do it himself. This team has nothing to speak of and is getting worse. There is nothing to even talk about. They will finish fighting for the cellar in the AFC West with KC.
23. Jets- So who is the QB? Raiders know the answer for their team. It is kind of an important position. One that a team shouldn’t be in the position of choosing the lesser of the evils. Oh yeah and Vilma is gone. The Jets are just bad.
24. Bengals- Prove that the defense can play of the field instead of the prison yard and then come see me. These are the new bad boys guys. At least the Raiders were the best when they were the criminals. So which is it?
25. Bears- See the Jets QB situation for your answer here. The Bears have plenty more falling to do and some serious rebuilding in the near future.
26. Rams- I personally think the Rams will have a resurgence this year with healthy players. Pace being the big (in more ways than one) piece to this. And Chris Long will certainly help. That D will still not be so good but the offense will make up for some of that.
27. Raiders- They signed many key players in the offseason, will have their superstar QB in the lineup all season after a year of learning the offense, have the best secondary in the league, two of the most ball hawking LB in the game, and have a very favorable schedule. Ask John Clayton what he thinks. I knew a long time ago that he is the only REAL expert that ESPN has on staff. He has the Raiders ranked 19th with possibility for more with solid play from some question mark players. I also have them ranked 19th but the schedule means that their record should be even better than that.
They got the last five pretty close to how I would have ranked them (although I think the Lions will be a bit better) but that does not excuse anything. Placing the Raiders just above the mess that is the Niners is inexcusable. And the Raiders are only even as high as 27th thanks to John Clayton, Jeremy Green and James Walker all ranking them 19th and offsetting the haters with mics and makeup. Just so you know; Matt Mosley was the lone “expert” that ranked the Raiders dead last. In the hater trash you go Matt. It is getting crowded in there these days. That usually means the Raiders are doing something right.