The Doubt About It writers have a long-standing history of gambling/reminding one another of stupid picks from the past/ lousy predictions/'stache-bashing. With such traditions in mind, one of the ways they intend to get ready for the NFL season is to pick a "sleeper" team and be held accountable for them all season. A "sleeper" team is defined as any team that a losing or .500 record last season and the writer feels has a chance to make the playoffs. Feel free throughout the NFL season to remind the DAI writers in the comments section about how awful their pick may have turned out.
When Pat originally came up with this idea, the first team that popped into my head was the Arizona Cardinals. A young and talented offense with an improving defense appeared promising. Yet, I could not bring myself to support Matt Leinart and Ken Whisenhunt. I simply do not like Leinart, his comments after the Rose Bowl about the "better" team not winning still bothers me. And although I like Whisenhunt, I felt like rooting for him to succeed was like rooting against Tomlin.
Also, picking an NFC team was too easy. The conference is so atrocious, any of the NFC teams could catch fire. Way to be ballsy, Wannstache and PiSoNC. Actually, I give the 'Stache credit for claiming the Lions will win the division, that kind of made up for it. Nonetheless, picking a crummy NFC team is about as daring as picking an 8-8 team in the AFC that just missed the playoffs, you know, a team like the Jags.
That's when I decided I wanted to either go down as a legend, or get ridiculed for the entire season. That's why I am picking the Oakland Raiders.
First, this should come as no surprise to anyone. I want everyone to scroll down the page, 7 articles below this one. The article I'm referring to is the one with the pig trying to fly as the picture. In that article I gave the scenario for the Pirates to pull out the division. While the split with the Reds and the Cubs winning the series against the Brewers has weakened the campaign even further, all hope is not lost yet. My penchant for reveling in the underdog role is not the only reason I've picked the Raiders, though.
Taking a look at some stats from last year, I noticed the Raiders gave up 332 points, good for 12th out of the 16 teams in the AFC. They also came in 29th in the league for time of possession, averaging just a bit over 28 minutes a game. 28 minutes is actually rather remarkable, considering they turned the ball over a league high 47 times. In order to make that possible, the defense led the league in take aways with 46. Granted, 4 of those came from a certain injury plagued QB, but to be only -1 in turnover differential after giving up 47 provides a strong case that the defense is playoff caliber.
Now, the offense. They were clicking at a pathetic 10.5 points/game last year. When there is no passing game and 9 guys are in the box, that will happen. But they went out and got the big, strong armed QB they needed in JaMarc....I mean, Daunte Culpepper. He will be better than Andrew Walters, it would be very difficult not to be. Any improvement will open up their running game. I'm sure there was that guy in every fantasy league last year that wasted a high pick on LaMont Jordan, essentially killing their season. This year he is no more than an after thought. But I have a feeling 7-9 TDs is not out of the question.
The schedule is also forgiving, as it should be when you're terrible the year before. They have to play the Broncos and Chargers a combined 4 times. Not good. But in the remaining 12 games they play the Browns, Packers, Lions, Dolphins, Chiefs(twice), Texans and Vikings.
With an easy schedule and an offense that can take the pressure off a potentially superb defense, the Raiders have their eyes set on the playoffs (The previous line sounds like something out of an NFL Films season recap, where the Earl Mann-esq announcer can spin any worthless team into the next Super Bowl contender). Plus, the Raiders play the Lions in week 1, and the thought of agitating Wannstache was just too enticing to wait any longer than I had to.
End of Week