Raiders: One big question

Can the Raiders stay in the race in 2012?

The Oakland Raiders are a team in transition.

Steadying the organization with an eye on the future is the goal of new general manager Reggie McKenzie, who is taking over the direction of the team after the death of legendary Oakland owner Al Davis. Davis died at the age of 82 last October. Because Davis desperately tried to win in his final years, McKenzie was saddled with a poor salary-cap situation and a lack of draft picks.

The result is that Oakland has not been able to add many major pieces who can help right away. The problem is, Oakland’s three competitors in the AFC West -- Denver, Kansas City and San Diego -- all made significant additions.

The Raiders’ additions were more of the modest variety. If Oakland, which was 8-8 and lost the AFC West title to Denver via a tiebreaker last season, has a chance to win the division for the first time in 10 years, it must hope quarterback Carson Palmer finds his groove, running back Darren McFadden stays healthy, its young receivers continue to develop and the defense makes huge strides under new coach Dennis Allen.

Oakland has depth issues on both sides of the ball, so it can’t sustain many major injuries. There is talent in Oakland, and the team is on the right track for the future, but the question is: Can the Raiders compete in the immediate future?