NFL: Oakland Raiders will be in the playoffs in 2014 if…

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

But: If the Oakland running game does not offer some balance for Dennis Allen’s team, whoever is at quarterback will face the consequences.

Last season, the team ran for exactly 125.0 yards per outing. But that number was indeed deceptive. Rashad Jennings was the team’s leading rusher with 733 yards but he signed with the New York Giants. Second on the list was Pryor, who ran for 576 yards. Meanwhile, oft-injured Darren McFadden totaled 379 yards and five scores on the ground. In six years in the league, he has yet to complete a season.

Enter running back Maurice Jones-Drew, the all-time leader in touchdowns scored for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has had his own issues in recent seasons after leading the NFL in rushing in 2011. But he, McFadden and company hope to benefit from a new-look offensive line featuring free-agent additions Donald Penn and Austin Howard at the tackles, along with new right guard Kevin Boothe.