Updated: September 1, 2011, 12:15 PM ET
AP Photo/Ben Margot JOHN CLAYTON QB RANKING (23): Coach Hue Jackson believes in Jason Campbell's talent, but if the offensive line can't block for him, talent might not matter.

Expert Picks (Consensus: third)

Intelligence Report

Five things you need to know about the Raiders:

1. McFadden's health is key: Running back Darren McFadden is Oakland's best offensive player. The No. 4 overall pick in 2008 had a spectacular third NFL season. He developed into an inside threat as well as an outside threat. He will be a main reason Oakland has a chance to win a lot of games this season. But he has to stay healthy. The Raiders have a strong backup tailback in Michael Bush, but McFadden gives Oakland's offense a special dimension when he's on the field. If there is a ding on McFadden it is his durability. He has missed 10 games in three NFL seasons. He missed a large chunk of training camp this year with a broken orbital bone.

2. Boss will get his chances: Kevin Boss is not the player that former Oakland tight end Zach Miller is. Miller signed with Seattle this offseason. But Boss is a solid player who will get his chances to be featured in Oakland's offense. Jason Campbell loved throwing to tight end Chris Cooley in Washington and Miller was, by far, his favorite target last season. Expect Boss, who has 119 career catches in four NFL seasons, to get a chance to grab 45 to 50 catches this season.

3. Need to start fast: The bad news for Oakland is that its first two games are on the road. The good news is the roadies are at Denver (on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" on Sept. 12) and at Buffalo. The Raiders have a chance to start 2-0. They will need to. Their next two games are at home, but they are against the New York Jets and New England. If the Raiders stumble at Denver or Buffalo, they will put themselves in a tough spot.

4. Watch out for the D-line: The Raiders' defensive front has a chance to be among the best in the NFL. The group of Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Houston can be special. Seymour is still playing at an elite level. Kelly is a run-stuffer who had a great season in 2010, and Houston and Shaughnessy are potential future Pro Bowl players. This is a mean, nasty group that should set the tone for a lot of victories for Oakland.

5. Don't forget about Ford: Jacoby Ford may have missed much of the preseason with a broken hand, but don't think he won't be ready to contribute this season. The 2010 fourth-round sensation should be ready to play Denver. Expect him to be a lightning rod for this offense. Ford will be a slot receiver, at the very least, and he could start. And don't forget his return ability. He took three kickoffs to the house as a rookie.

-- Bill Williamson, ESPN.com

Inside The Numbers

The Raiders finished 8-8 last season but were 6-0 against their AFC West rivals. Quarterback Jason Campbell's play had a lot to do with that, especially against the blitz. Campbell was first or tied for first in every major passing category against a blitz last season versus division opponents: 36 completions, a completion percentage of 60.0, six passing touchdowns and 27 first downs.

Campbell will have to improve his pocket passing if the Raiders want to get over the .500 hump. Last season, Campbell led qualified quarterbacks in completion percentage (65.8), yards per attempt (10.3) and passer rating (134.8) on throws made outside of the pocket. When he threw from inside the pocket, however, Campbell's passer rating dipped to 79.8, and he threw just one more touchdown than interception.

• The Raiders' pass defense could be in trouble with the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency. The Raiders were tough on plays where three or more wide receivers took the field in 2010. They ranked first in the NFL in fewest completions (127), lowest completion percentage (49.9), fewest yards per attempt (5.9) and fewest first downs (74) against three-plus wide receiver formations.

• Campbell will miss tight end Zach Miller. Miller was Campbell's most-targeted receiver last season, and the two connected for 40 completions, 10 more than the next-highest Raiders receiver.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

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