The Oakland Raiders have added two legitimate receivers in veteran Michael Crabtree and rookie Amari Cooper into the mix. Will this be enough to inspire NFL picks on them instead of the Bengals?
A 2nd Life
Michael Crabtree's production will be key this season. We've seen that he's capable of making big catches when he was a member of the San Francisco 49'ers and the football had to be spread around. He must take his game to the next level as big things are expect from Amari Cooper, who had an outstanding college career with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
A Passing Team
Crabtree's career was highlighted by his career best 1105 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns in 2012, but he must be more consistent. A change of scenery might do him well as Colin Kaepernick was all about running the football himself and lacks accuracy at times.
Crabtree will need quarterback Derek Carr to also improve this season. Carr really didn't have the targets and now there are no excuses. He's coming off of a 3270 yard season last year with 21 TD and 12 INT. Oakland's real weakness is the running game as Darren McFadden has moved on to Dallas. Carr must come up big as he'll have many more opportunity to throw the football. Expect the Raiders to score more points this season, but the running game is a definite concern.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been an open book throughout Andy Dalton's tenure there. They have a 10 win season, make it to the playoffs, and then Dalton chokes in the 1st round of the playoffs.He must mature or Bengals management might send him elsewhere.
I expect Dalton to come out gunning in week 1 to his favorite target A.J. Green. Green has proven to be one of the best receivers in the NFL when he stays healthy. He gets double-covered at times and that makes Mohamed Sanu (790 yards, 5 TD) an integral part of the Bengals offense. Dalton also has some nice targets in Marvin Jones, who is capable of having a 3 touchdown game and Tyler Eifert at the tight end position. The Bengals have added protection for Dalton in the draft on the offensive line and this should enable him to deliver the football with more time to spare.
Keep in mind before placing your NFL picks that Jermey Hill got a little tired as the season progressed last year, but Jeremy Hill provides the element of surprise in the Bengals offense and Hill had a very productive season last year with 1124 yards and 9 TD at over 5 yards per carry. Add in backup, Giovani Bernard and it will be "curtains" for the ""new and improved" Oakland Raiders.
NFL Pick- Cincinnati Bengals -3.5 -102 at 5 Dimes