Raiders: Dream/nightmare scenarios

Yes, the start of training camps is two months away, but it’s never too early to consider the coming season. A look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Raiders in 2012.

Dream scenario (9-7): Maybe the Raiders get the Carson Palmer whom the last staff envisioned, and he regains his form from years ago. Although the tight end position is a nightmare, Oakland’s core of young wide receivers could burst onto the scene this season. Denarius Moore could be a superstar, and Juron Criner could be an ideal complement. Switching schemes can be dicey, but the Raiders’ offensive line looks better off in going to a zone-blocking scheme, and should be especially improved on the interior. Oakland also absolutely must cut down on penalties, and drastically reducing such mistakes seems like a reasonable and reachable goal. Also, only four teams threw more interceptions than the Raiders last season. Reducing picks along with having a exceptional pair of kicking specialists could greatly aid Oakland in winning the hidden-yardage battle.

Nightmare scenario (4-12): The Raiders have poor depth. They are also breaking in a new head coach and new schemes. As the season goes along, their depth will surely be tested -- and I don’t expect it to respond kindly. Oakland absolutely needs Darren McFadden to stay healthy this season. Of course, that has been a problem for its spectacular running back. When healthy, few in this league produce like McFadden, but the right tackle position looks like a trouble area. There also could be a drop-off coming on defense. The defensive line overall is strong, but where are the top edge pass-rushers and top cover men? In a passing league, that is a massive problem in my eyes. The best I can forecast for Oakland is to have great luck with injuries and sneak into the playoffs as a wild-card team, while their nightmare scenario could be selecting in the top five of next year’s draft.