Here's a look at the Super Bowl prospects of the Oakland Raiders, who finished the season 6-10. The tiers consist of: Realistic Super Bowl expectations; Should contend, but there are question marks; Middle of the pack; Lots of work to do; and Nowhere close.
Westgate odds to win Super Bowl LIII: 20-1
Should contend, but there are question marks: Call it the Chucky Effect. Because two days before Jon Gruden was reintroduced as Raiders coach, Oakland's odds to win Super Bowl LIII were at 30-1. Look at them now. There is talent in Oakland, of course, the Raiders going 12-4 in 2016 before last season's freefall that saw their turnover ratio go from a league-leading plus-16 in 2016 to minus-14.
Quarterback Derek Carr was not the only Raiders player to regress, though. The offensive line, which had been one of the league's more dominant units, looked as though it could not remember its identity after left tackle Donald Penn's training camp holdout. Receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree slumped -- badly -- with numerous drops that affected trust and, thus, production. Then there was Marshawn Lynch, who came on strong in the second half of the season, after being a non-factor early on.
Defensively, Khalil Mack was his usual brilliant self. He still desperately needs a bookend edge rusher to help when he is getting double- and triple-teamed, even as Bruce Irvin came on late and Mack could find himself on a bubble, of sorts. Gruden cut cornerback David Amerson on Monday, and Sean Smith could be next. With free safety Reggie Nelson unlikely to return as a free agent, the Raiders need to rebuild a secondary that was a weak link. Figuring out whether to bring back NaVorro Bowman at middle linebacker is another looming decision.
Gruden is seen as a QB whisperer who is supposed to get Carr going again. Gruden may have to lean on defensive coordinator Paul Guenther more than expected if the Raiders hope to accomplish owner Mark Davis' goal of winning a Super Bowl in the Bay Area before departing for Las Vegas in 2020. The talent is there ... it's up to Gruden to answer some questions, though.