As the Oakland Raiders prepare for the 2017 NFL season, the expectations continue to grow. Oakland was viewed as a serious Super Bowl contender last season before star quarterback Derek Carr went down with a season-ending injury late in the season. Now, they are expected to be the main contender in the AFC for the New England Patriots.
It has been a long time since the Raiders were viewed as a team to beat. Oakland fans have been waiting a long time to see their team back in the playoff chase, but unfortunately, they will instead see their team leave town for Las Vegas following the 2018 season.
Despite the fact that the team is headed to another city, fans couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming season. There are very few fan bases that are more diehard fans than the Raiders’ fans. Having a team that can compete for another championship has made for exciting times in Oakland.
At this point in time, Oakland and New England appear to be the top two teams in the AFC. Pittsburgh could make some noise, but outside of those three, there aren’t many contenders on paper.
All of that being said, what bold predictions can be made for the Oakland Raiders heading into the 2017 NFL season?
Marshawn Lynch Will Rush for 1,300+ Yards
Signing Marshawn Lynch was one of the biggest moves of the offseason. Oakland is hoping to establish their rushing attack in order to take pressure off of Carr. Lynch will be able to do just that with 1,300 rushing yards on the season and will prove that he is still very much in his prime.
Derek Carr Will Throw for 45 Touchdowns
After throwing 28 touchdown passes last season, Carr is in line to take a big leap forward. Oakland has a dynamic aerial attack and will see their franchise quarterback throw 45 touchdowns this season. Carr is without question one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL and will show why in 2017.
Khalil Mack Will Record At Least 20 Sacks
Oakland’s defense will likely be the deciding factor in their bid for a Super Bowl appearance. Khalil Mack is the leader of the defense and one of the most lethal pass rushers in the NFL. He will prove that he is worthy of being in the debate for best pass rusher in the league with at least 20 sacks on the season.
Sean Smith Will Have Six Interceptions
Oakland signed Sean Smith to a major contract last offseason, and he didn’t live up to the hype in 2016. He will bounce back with a huge season in 2017 for the Raiders. That huge season will consist of at least six interceptions, and he will finally give the Raiders a true No. 1 cornerback.
Oakland Will Knock Off the Patriots to Win the AFC
Come playoff time, if the Raiders are healthy, they are going to be a tough team to beat. New England is widely viewed as the favorite to win the AFC once again, but the Raiders aren’t going to let that happen. Oakland will find a way to beat the Patriots and end up advancing to Super Bowl 52.
Do you think the Oakland Raiders will win the AFC? What are you expecting from the Raiders this season? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Reed Hoffmann/AP Images]