The Wild West: A Closer Look At The Oakland Raiders

The Kansas City Chiefs 2010 football season starts in a matter of days. To prepare, here's a look at their division rival the lowly Oakland Raiders.

The worst news from the Chiefs perspective coming out of the AFC West this offseason has to also be one of the most unexpected summations of the entire NFL: the Oakland Raiders are acting normal.

Given the spate of ridiculous news, draft picks and transactions coming out of Oakland the last several years, it's easy to forget that this team actually played in a Super Bowl this decade. And it seems that some level of common sense has returned to Al Davis & Co. The team went after the steady hand of Jason Campbell at quarterback this offseason and, given his performance against the 49ers, it seems they have a nice back-up in Bruce Gradkowski as well. They have a solid tight end in Zach Miller, promising young receivers like Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford (and even Darrius Heyward-Bey) and the running backs are set with Michael Bush leading the way.

The team's first round choice of Rolando McClain gives the linebacking corps a captain on defense and several Chiefs fans were hoping the Alabama product would end up in Kansas City. Last year's acquisition of Richard Seymour makes more sense with another year's perspective and he becomes a fine cornerstone for a d-line that also added promising end Lamarr Houston. Newly acquired linebacker Kamerion Wimbley has also looked good this preseason. And that's not even touching a secondary with perhaps the best cornerback in football, Nnamdi Asomugha.

Not only this, but adding an offensive mind like Hue Jackson might turn out to be the best move of all, a la the Chiefs addition of Charlie Weis. Add in the continuity of keeping Tom Cable as head coach and John Marshall as defensive coordinator and you have the most serene offseason in recent Raiders history. This can't be anything but a positive heading into a season where the rest of the division leaders seem to be caught up in drama.

As for weaknesses, the Raiders are still the Raiders. The biggest hole on the team has been their offensive line and while draft choices like Jared Veldheer (third round) and Bruce Campbell (fourth round) look promising, they're both projects that will take a while to adjust to the level of competition and work ethic needed at the NFL level. There was a reason Campbell was run out of Washington as well, so he's still a wild-card given the weaker line and immaturity at receiver.

Still, the Raiders are clearly a rising ship and that's going to make the two games against the Chiefs that much harder. Both franchises look better than they have in recent years and we'll see which rebuilding plan looks better when they face each other soon enough.

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