NFL training camps are winding down and the preseason is in full force. So what do we expect from the Oakland Raiders in 2017?

It’s safe to say we’re not shy when it comes to getting you ready for the upcoming NFL season. Since March, we have strung together four different series in preparation for the fall. We have looked at all 32 teams’ most improved area. That was preceded by pieces on a club’s best offseason addition, some facts, figures and feats for each squad, as well as an up-and-coming player for each roster.

So call this one for the thumb. With the regular-season rapidly approaching, we’ll take a look at what we could expect from each team. Every team wants to win the Super Bowl. However, 31 teams will obviously be disappointed. So we have been taking a look at all 32 clubs (in original 2017 draft order) and doing a little analysis. You can play catch up right here. So what are we really expecting from the Oakland Raiders in 2017?

It was a big year that came to a crummy ending. The Oakland Raiders were on their way to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. But star quarterback Derek Carr breaks his leg in a Week 16 win over the Indianapolis Colts and Jack Del Rio’s team went quietly in the wild card round.

Now one of the best offenses in the league has a battering ram in running back Marshawn Lynch, who will have fresh legs after a year away from the NFL. The receiving corps is superb with Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper and Seth Roberts – along with a strong free-agent pickup in tight end Jared Cook (Green Bay Packers). Led by left tackle Donald Penn, the offensive line is superb.

On the other side of the ball, there’s talent and 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. But the team adds a lot of pieces last year and the defense just didn’t perform up to snuff. Del Rio needs more from outside linebacker Bruce Irvin and cornerback Sean Smith. Veteran free safety Reggie Nelson had a solid year. And rookie defensive backs Gareon Conley (1-Ohio State) and Obi Melifonwu (2-Connecticut) may have to grow up quickly.

Summation:

The Oakland Raiders are a very vogue pick to not only capture the AFC West this season but usurp the New England Patriots as AFC champions. But if that is indeed going to happen, Del Rio better plan on getting a lot more from that defensive unit. So far this summer (and we understand it is preseason), there hasn’t been a lot of signs of defensive improvement. Carr and the offense can be scary good and the addition of Lynch gives the Silver and Black a closer.

We’ll keep an open mind, but there’s the distinct possibility that the Raiders are going to be involved in their share of shootouts and not win them all. All told, 10 or 11 wins is extremely possible. But until they learn how to beat the Kansas City Chiefs, they are relegated to wild card status.

Russell S. Baxter is the NFL lead columnist for EndZoneScore.com and the founder of ProFootballGuru.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.

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