The Raiders went 8-8 last season after losing their starting quarterback, running back, and 2/3 of their starting wr corps. Also, the Raiders fielded the worst defense in the history of the organization. In addition, Al croaking threw a short term wrench into the machine (long term we all know the deal). And despite all that, they were still in it in the final quarter of the final game of the season.
It's funny that people say we lost significant players. The only guy we got rid of that was worth a damn was Michael Bush.
Stanford Routt was the most penalized CB in the league and Kameron Wimbley flat out sucked. Take away the one game against Chargers in which he recorded 4 sacks against a 3rd string T and that leaves him with 3 sacks in the other 15 games. Good riddance to bad trash. Routt and Wimbley were overpaid underperformers.
The Raider defense will be better. If you subtracted Al's antiquated D that was then hybridized by the anti-genius, Chuck Bresnahan, and then put 11 guys out on the field to draw up plays on the turf, the defense would improve.
Simply put, if Knapp doesn't F up the offense and if the defense is only competent, Oakland will go to the playoffs. Of course this assumes a healthy team.
It's funny that despite the fact that Oakland has the best record in the conference against conference opponents over the last two years, everyone still picks us to be the worst in the division. This is a team that needed some tweaks, not a gigantic overhaul.
OTOH, while the offense is the biggest asset, it's also a big concern because of Greg Knapp. Had Reggie McKenzie just kept Al Saunders in charge of the offense, I would predict us to be a top 10 offense, without question. But Knapp has changed things up considerably and so it's a question mark. It's the only thing I'm worried about.