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 going to a zone-blocking scheme and should be especially improved on the interior. Oakland 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 an 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.