Friday, July 07, 2006

Pillaging The Previews

I am a ravenous consumer of NFL preview guides. I love them. I buy every one I can find. It’s an expensive sickness. Do I really need to read five separate breakdowns of all 32 teams? Yes, apparently I do.

It is fashionable to mock these guides as being preposterous in their predictions, given the fact that they are published long before training camps have even commenced, and given the competitive volatility of the NFL from year to year. But I ask: What else are you going to read in June and July? TV Guide? Lonesome Dove? Tour de France recaps? Raider Take’s favorite columnist?

Of course these guides are preposterous! After all, look at what they are saying about the Oakland Raiders. In fact, let’s have a close look at what they are saying about the Oakland Raiders….

I have in my possession the 2006 preview guides by Pro Football Weekly, Athlon Sports, Sporting News and Street & Smith’s, who have all picked the Raiders to finish dead last in the AFC West. The two publications that predict actual records, Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly, put the Raiders down for four and six wins respectively.

Street & Smith’s is especially brutal in their assessment of the Raiders. Here’s what they say: “Shell of a team…It is probably fair to say that Art Shell wanted to return to coaching in the NFL in the worst way. It is probably fair to say that he will…The Raiders last won a Super Bowl in 1984, have been back to one once since then and now may permanently drop anchor at the bottom of the AFC West…The Raiders? Keep those slogans coming, Al. That’s all you’ve got left.”

You can pull a muscle hating like that!

Do you notice that these folks are always prattling about Super Bowls when it comes to the Raiders—owners of three Lombardi trophies and Super Bowl participants after the 2002 season—while rarely mentioning the last time teams like the Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Jets, Bills, Browns, etc. have appeared in, let alone won, a Super Bowl? I smell an intellectual rat, don’t you?

Anyhow, I have found similarly dismal projections across the Internet, a virtual plague of groupthink. For example, Gil Brandt ranks the Raiders at 26th in his team rankings on NFL.com. Someone sent me a link the other day to a questionable site that proudly rips the Raiders by ranking them 29th in their team rankings. Why stop there if you hate the Raiders (and reality) so much? Why not rank them 34th out of 32 teams? In the classrooms of the Raiders Haters, that’s called math.

All I can say is that we shall see. Before these preview guides were published, I made my case for a minimum of eight wins for the Raiders, which would exceed every expectation published in these preview guides. Of course, it’s all talk right now. We will start keeping score in September. I can’t wait.

Anyhow, don’t you just love all of this doubt and dissing? I do. I have this vision of NFL groupthinkers sunbathing on a cruise liner, umbrellas in their drinks, smug in their creature comforts. Then suddenly the horizon darkens. There’s a tall ship on the approach. It’s got sails. It’s loaded with rum and gunpowder. It’s coming to change some minds and right some wrongs. It’s the 2006 Oakland Raiders. Bombs away.

22 Comments:

Blogger Calico Jack said...

The day that the pundits write glowing columns/predictions about the Raiders I will be in a total state of shock ... I will fall out of a coconut tree (reference to Keith Richards hitting his noggin in the Caribbean).

With expectations low & bulletin borad material flying, we got the naysayers right where we want them. The "Us against the world" mentality suits our brethren just fine.

Load the cannons. Bombs away indeed.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Stick'em said...

Just a head's up:

Gil Brandt doesn't hate the Raiders. He's the guy (along with Bill Parcells) most likely to be seen sitting next to Al Davis at the draft combine, year after year.

Brandt probably is taking a look at what the team has done over the last three seasons - and the performance hasn't been any better than 26th in this time - and predicting the same.

PFT is pretty funny and gives everyone a hard time as a general rule (e.g., The All-Turd Team), but they in no way resemble analysts of football. Of the field, they know their stuff usually. On the field, well...not so good.

As for ESPN and their ranking the Raiders #32 at EVERYTHING,I say f'em, each and every one of 'em. They did to sports what MTV did to my music with SportsCenter highlight time.

From Donco Matt Schlereth to Donco Tom Jackson, ESPN is Raider Hater Nation and they are a joke with no punch line.

4:27 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

I listen to Brandt on Sirius NFL Radio, and I'd have a hard time believing he hates anyone, he's so nice. I don't mean to cast him as a Raiders Hater. You're right, there's some merit to saying: Well, these guys have only won 13 games over three years, so why the hell should I pick them higher than 26th?

At the same time, though, I find it odd that NO ONE looks at the addition through subtraction of ditching Norv and Kerry, looks at our easier schedule this year, looks at the addition of Michael Huff, looks at the head coaching track record of Art Shell, and says...Hmmm, maybe they'll be significantly improved this year.

It smacks of groupthink and knee-jerk dismissal of the Raiders, if not outright Raiders hating as in the case of Street & Smith's.

One thing's for sure, no one wants to make a wrong prediction in FAVOR of the Raiders.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous daveraider said...

In defense of Pro Football Talk. com (whom I read every day right AFTER I read Raidernews.com), They DID pick us to win the super bowl last year....

6:43 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Well, I guess that means the Raiders will embarrass PFT for a second straight year!

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been fasionable for several years to trash the Raiders. To make matters worse the last three years the Raiders have deserved it.

This year's Raiders, on paper, are much improved. We now have a linebacker corp! The additions of Huff, Howard, and Bing should really help the Raiders defense, especially Huff. The Raiders still need another DT and I'm hoping they will sign Grady Jackson. I believe he will be the last piece to the D-line puzzle.

The only question mark I have is whether Walsh has what it takes to guide the offense. He'll stress power running and the deep ball but I doubt there will be much deception in his game planning.

I really think the Raiders will surprise a lot of teams this year. And we'll see our defense win some ball games for us as well.

7:04 AM  
Anonymous raider00 said...

RT, you are correct that the Raiders receive unfair treatment from most media folks. I don't know when this all changed. I can remember a time when the Raiders were the darlings of NBC, and when guys like Jimmy the Greek, and Pete Axehelm were very pro Raiders.
They used to like the idea that the Raiders were different, interesting, and fun. Nowdays networks like the stale ESPN, seem to resent the fact that the Raiders are not cookie cut like every other NFL team.
I do kind of like Tom Jackson though. Every time he speaks about the Raiders, it reminds me of what a loser he was. You can acually see all the many defeats to silver & black in his eyes. He was on the losing end so many times, I guess the poor guy just snapped. I get a kick out of watching him.

8:00 AM  
Blogger NFL Adam said...

Actually, the preseason publications wrote glowing previews of the Raiders back in 1994, Art Shell's last season as coach. Many publications predicted the Raiders to reach the Super Bowl. Had that season turn out?

More than enough preseason publications praised the Raiders during the Jon Gruden era, too. But hey, those guys didn't know what they were talking about.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Well, since there's unanimity across the board in all of these publications and web sites with regard to the 2006 Oakland Raiders, one thing is for sure: they'll either ALL be right or ALL be wrong. And won't it be fun if it's the latter case? A minimum of eight wins, as I'm predicting, will make that dream come true.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous HS said...

In Jon Gruden’s third year I remember some of these publications predicting he was on the hot seat and probably would not survive the season. He only won the West and went to the AFC championship game.

As far as ESPN goes, three of their top analyst are Joe Theisman, Tom Jackson and Ron Jaworski. The one thing they have in common during their careers is the Raiders beat the crap out of them at the height of their respective careers.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Roy said...

Raider Take,
You could spend all of your time reading fantasy football news and participating in mock drafts! But to each his own.

9:54 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

I keep telling my friends one thing. Keep the spin coming. SI.com and the like can sing the tune. God willing, the Chargers, Ravens, Browns and Niners will hum along. I'm predicting that we'll roll into Denver 4-0. Am I crazy? Maybe. But that is what the offseason is for. Isn't that right, RT?

11:20 AM  
Blogger NFL Adam said...

The one thing you guys have going is that there is always that one team that seemingly comes out of nowhere to win.

The Raiders could be that team. But it would have to be with Andrew Walter.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

nfl adam-I disagree that we will have to win with Walters this year. Everyone wraps hard on Brooks, but look who the guy played for...The FREAKING SAINTS! He had no pass protection at all, and the guy has a strong arm.
One thing is for sure this season, the Raiders O-line and D-line are going to punch others in the mouth, and they will have better protection. I think he is going to surprise a lot of people this year.
As for the bad predictions and writing; it wouldn't be an NFL Offseason without it. I hate ESPN with a passion, they are idiots in their own rights. Just because you've played the game, doesn't make you an expert. And just because you write good sports fantasies, and can spew out garb of trades you dream would happen (Peter Gammons is the best at this too), doesn't make you a sports 'caster with intelligence. I'd rather put up with the lunacy at foxsports than ESPN (Every Shiz Player's Network)

11:59 AM  
Anonymous sec 137 said...

It's hard to elect the top mediot / analyst Raider Hater because the pool is so deep, but my vote would have to go to Randy Cross.

Hopefully Rich Gannon can find his way into a CBS booth this year with Randy Cross and beat the crap out of him.

A younger Gannon vs. a now steroid loaded needle free Cross....edge to Rich.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Florio, the man behind Pro Football Talk.com, picked the Raiders to be the surprise winners of the AFC West in 2005. I believe he's making up for his mistake by going to the other extreme this year. If you leave out the predictions about the Raiders, PFT is an excellent site - usually a better source of news than any of the commercial web sites.
The Raiders are depending on a lot of guys playing better next season than they have in the recent past. Sapp, Brooks, and the whole O-line, as well as others. We Raider fans can give reasons why that will happen, but we shouldn't expect other people - including sportswriters - to think the same way.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Stick'em said...

HS:

The ESPN trinity of Raider Haters - the Jack@$$on, the Jaws, and the holy Joe.

They must all still wake up in the middle of the night from dreaming screaming, "What happened? Make it stop! No! Pleeeaaase....please stop the bad man in black from hurting me!"

ROTFLMAO

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate the Chiefs with a passion, but I like articles which are accurate. They unfortunately won Super Bowl IV by beating the Viqueens and lost the first one. This is in regards to your comment:

"Do you notice that these folks are always prattling about Super Bowls when it comes to the Raiders—owners of three Lombardi trophies and Super Bowl participants after the 2002 season—while rarely mentioning the last time teams like the Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Jets, Bills, Browns, etc. have appeared in, let alone won, a Super Bowl? I smell an intellectual rat, don’t you?"

Otherwise a damn good article.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Just to clarify, I didn't mean to imply that the Chiefs have never won a Super Bowl, so I don't think I'm inaccurate in this case. I'm also aware that the Jets won a Super Bowl.

My point in this take is that these magazines are always gleefully noting that the Raiders last won a Super Bowl in 1984 but rarely point out when many other NFL teams (1) last played in a Super Bowl, if ever; and/or (2) the last time they won a Super Bowl, if ever.

When's the last time you heard these folks make a point of saying, "The Kansas City Chiefs, who haven't won a Super Bowl since 1970..."

Never.

7:18 PM  
Blogger ski081 said...

"Then suddenly the horizon darkens. There’s a tall ship on the approach. It’s got sails. It’s loaded with rum and gunpowder. It’s coming to change some minds and right some wrongs. It’s the 2006 Oakland Raiders. Bombs away." Very sweet. Gave me chills. I think 8-8 is conservative, but that would still make all the know-it-alls wrong.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

I just looked over our schedule and I predict a 9-7 record at the minimum. There are at least two games in which I think the deciding factor will come down to some freak play (Hail Mary, or something), so my prediction could change to as high as 11-5 –- that's as high as i can possibly conceive of the 06 Raiders making it. I just have this feeling our running game is going to be too week for us to win more than nine games.

12:40 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

These publications always go with the safe bets when making predictions. You'll rarely, if ever, find a team who didn't make the playoffs the previous year as one of their Super Bowl picks. I think it's a matter of CYA (cover your ass)...you don't want to be seen as the magazine who ridiculously picked a Texans-Cardinals Super Bowl the previous year.

5:15 AM  

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