Realistic Expectations for the 2017 Oakland Raiders

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HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: Fans tailgate before the AFC Wild Card game between the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on January 7, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Oakland Raiders are the talk of the town. Some think they’re Super Bowl contenders, and others think they’re overrated. But the one undisputed truth is they’re worth talking about. We did a version of this article last year, and we were pretty dead on, accurately predicting that the Raiders would return to the playoffs, but disappear pretty quickly. Will that be the same in 2017? Here are some realistic expectations for the 2017 Oakland Raiders.

Realistic Expectations for the 2017 Oakland Raiders

Last year, the question was simple. Have the Oakland Raiders done enough to get over the hill and make the playoffs. The answer was a resounding yes, as the Raiders won 12 games, locking up a wildcard spot. If Trent Cole hadn’t injured Derek Carr in Oakland’s win over the Indianapolis Colts in week 16, the Raiders likely would’ve won the division and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs. Instead, they lost their star quarterback, the AFC West, and their first playoff game since 2002.

But that was last year and last year is gone. Derek Carr is back, healthy and $125,000,000 richer. Expectations for the Raiders are the highest they’ve been in over a decade. They went out this off-season and made some interesting moves, bringing in offensive pieces like Cordarrelle Patterson and Jared Cook to add depth, but that’s not the move that made the most waves. Oakland also managed to lure bruising tailback Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. What are the realistic expectations for the silver and black in 2017?

Progress

The Oakland Raiders might be a Super Bowl contender in 2017, and they night not. While the Raider Nation would love to see Derek Carr hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season, that shouldn’t be the primary goal. In 2017, the Oakland Raiders need to prove that 2016 wasn’t a fluke, and they need to take the next step. Here are the four things the Oakland Raiders need to accomplish in 2017.

  1. Improve on Defense
  2. Beat the Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Win the AFC West
  4. Win a Playoff Game

It’s that simple. And if you think about it, they work together. A Raiders team with a better defense can beat Kansas City. With the Chiefs out of the way, the best division in football is as good as won. And with the West won, the ravenous Raider Nation gets to host a playoff game. And let’s all pity the team that has to go into the Black Hole on that night.

These aren’t unreasonable goals. The Raiders added Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu, Eddie Vanderdoes, Marquel Lee, and Jelani Jenkins this off-season, and all of these men should make an immediate impact in one way or another. The Kansas City Chiefs had a hilariously mediocre off-season, and the Raiders are poised to take the division.

Expectations

So what should the Raider Nation expect from their favorite team this season? More of the same. Derek Carr will continue to develop, and Khalil Mack will continue to terrorize quarterbacks. Amari Cooper will break ankles, and Marquette King will be penalized for goofy post-punt antics. The Raiders should win double digit games again and make the playoffs.

The Raiders aren’t necessarily in Super Bowl or Bust mode just yet. Last year was a great first step, but they need to prove it wasn’t a fluke. If the Raiders can repeat their success from 2016, it will establish them as one of the best young teams in football. Anything past that? Is just gravy.

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