NFL: 5 teams we’d be dumb to count out as playoff contenders

Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby, Oakland Raiders. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby, Oakland Raiders. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

28. Pick Analysis. West. 1. player. Scouting Report. AFC. Las Vegas Raiders

Outside of a few teams, the AFC is wide-open this season. Though we know the Kansas City Chiefs will win the AFC West, the Baltimore Ravens will probably win the AFC North and the Buffalo Bills will likely make the playoffs, the four remaining playoff spots could go to any number of teams, including the Las Vegas Raiders as a wild card team.

Though the Raiders only made the postseason once since playing in Super Bowl 3, the Silver and Black have the pieces in place to at least vie for one of three wild card spots this year. While Derek Carr quarterbacked the Raiders to the playoffs four years ago, if he sputters, look for head coach Jon Gruden to put in he and general manager Mike Mayock’s guy in Marcus Mariota.

As long as the Raiders don’t lose games at quarterback, they have the supporting cast to play sound, complementary football en route to nine wins or so. Look for the Raiders to pound the rock with second-year bell-cow back Josh Jacobs. They’ve added former Alabama Crimson Tide standout Henry Ruggs III to the receiving corps. And let’s not forget about the Raiders’ pass-rush.

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With Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell coming off strong rookie seasons, the Raiders have the identity they’ve needed defensively for a very long time. While they have tough competition in AFC West play in the Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Chargers, you have to believe having Gruden as Super Bowl-winning coach will out perform his counterparts Vic Fangio and Anthony Lynn.