Ultimate Standings: Raiders' hopeful fans boost team's rank

AP Images/Marcio Jose Sanchez

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Oakland Raiders

Overall: 105
Title track: T55
Ownership: 103
Coaching: 73
Players: 99
Fan relations: 91
Affordability: 58
Stadium experience: 121
Bang for the buck: 116
Change from last year: +14

The last time the Raiders had a winning record, George W. Bush was in his first term in office. With a promising young core, though, Oakland fans are starting to feel a little hope. Now they just need the team to stay in Oakland.

What's good

At first glance, the Raiders' 105th-place rank doesn't seem so great -- until you remember it's an improvement of 14 spots from last year. Raiders fans have long shown themselves to be among sports' most committed: Their team hasn't been to the playoffs in 13 years, but for whatever reason -- the colors, the swagger, the history -- their fans have kept their attitude. And, as shown by their highest ranking, in affordability, they've also mostly kept their money: Only three teams have cheaper average ticket prices than the Raiders, who still boast seats $20-plus below the league average.

What's bad

Not only have the Raiders not had a winning record since 2002, they also play in a stadium, the O.co Coliseum, that should have been put to rest years ago. The Raiders are ranked 121st -- that would be second to last in all of sports -- in stadium experience. Adding insult to injury, the team has the most expensive beer prices in the NFL -- $10.75 per -- forcing fans who arguably have the most reason to drown their misery to pay to the hilt. Not surprisingly, Oakland fans are way down in the bang for the buck category (116th). The question going forward is whether those expensive beers will be flowing in Oakland or in L.A. next year.

What's new

There's always been eternal hope for Raiders fans, but there seems to be more of it these days. By jumping 14 spots overall this year, the Raiders are no longer flirting with the title of worst franchise. Most of the reason for that is the improvement of the team itself. Jack Del Rio, who helped coaching jump 36 spots this year, is Oakland's eighth head coach since 2004, and he brings nearly nine years of head-coaching experience. (Oakland's last coach, Dennis Allen, had one year of experience as a defensive coordinator before being hired.) The Raiders are also up 15 spots in the players category, thanks to a core group of young talent. Quarterback Derek Carr, receiver Amari Cooper and linebacker Khalil Mack all have a chance to be superstars. Oakland has worked hard to construct a good locker room, and the team is strong when it comes to character. Finally, the team has started to take pride in a better public image in recent years. Media relations is at a zenith, and the team is very aggressive when it comes to social media. The Raiders desperately want to be good again. Of course, there are no guarantees.

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