Can 2012 Raiders Escape Team’s Black Hole of Playoff Misses?

The Oakland Raiders haven’t had a winning season since losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl a decade ago. They’ve had seven head coaches since, who’ve combined for a 45-109 record. Their “Commitment to Excellence” has been mocked and renamed to something else that will not be mentioned here.


But is there hope for their long-suffering fans?


Could 2012 be the year that the Raiders bring the pride back to the Bay?


Could the Raiders – gasp - reach the NFL playoffs?


In the mediocre, yet competitive AFC West, it’s quite possible. The Silver and Black almost made the postseason in 2011, tying the Denver Broncos with identical 8-8 records, but lost the tiebreaker for the division crown. The Broncos are one Peyton Manning injury away from disaster, the San Diego Chargers and coach Norv Turner always seem to underachieve, and the Kansas City Chiefs are rebuilding under new coach Romeo Crennel.


So the opportunity is there for the Raiders’ new man, Dennis Allen. Here’s five things that must happen for them to breathe the postseason air once more:


1. Darren McFadden must play a full season.


It hasn’t happened yet, as the former Arkansas running back has missed at least three games due to injury in each of his first four NFL seasons (missed 16 of 44 starts). When healthy, McFadden’s an elite running back. When he’s out, the Raiders lose nearly all respect on the ground from opposing defenses.

New offensive coordinator Greg Knapp comes over from Houston, where he molded Arian Foster and the Texans into a punishing ground unit (2nd in the league in 2011). The carries will be there for McFadden. If he can avoid getting hurt, the Raiders’ offense will be...

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