With a move to Las Vegas looming, and Marshawn Lynch’s potential return, the Oakland Raiders have an uncertain horizon. They came together last season, finishing with twelve wins and some newfound depth at skill positions. Despite a very competitive division, they made a playoff appearance for the first time in years. The Raiders were a team projected to go deep in the playoffs, but were unfortunately knocked out in the first round. Late season injuries highly influenced their poor performance against the Houston Texans, but this performance is not an indication of their future potential.
The offense finished last year as a developing juggernaut, with a strong offensive line, and great young talent at the skill positions. Quarterback Derek Carr had a career year that was cut short by injury, his performance exceeding his previously viewed ceiling as a player. With the signing of Green Bay tight end Jared Cook and formerly retired running back Marshawn Lynch, the offense looks virtually unstoppable. They played the 2015 offseason well, building the defense with multiple “big name” signings, including Sean Smith and Bruce Irvin. With all the right pieces in place (most importantly, a healthy lineup), this team could go deep in the playoffs in the next few years.
What brings this aspiring young team into question is how the Vegas move will impact their play, if at all. Fans have been divided by this move, although some consider the location more favorable for most fans.
San Marcos teacher Mr. Mooneyham, a loyal Raiders fan, said, “I don’t think the move would impact their play or the fanbase much. Most fans were already in Los Angeles anyway, so a move to Vegas shouldn’t be a big deal.”
Those living in Oakland may feel a bit differently, as they have been living through years of mediocrity in Oakland. Their last Super Bowl appearance was in the 2002 season, in which they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The local fans may now feel cheated, as their team is being pulled away from them just when they were beginning to prosper again. There could be a massive loss of fan base in the next few years, which could negatively impact the players’ performance. Until the Raiders have moved to Las Vegas, their momentum from last season could just as easily carry them strongly into this season or falter and crumble. Whichever direction they go, they have the potential to be a high seeded playoff team at the moment.
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