With one more preseason game before the start of the NFL regular season, who do you think will have a better record come January, the Raiders or the 49ers?
On close inspection the answer may not be that clear. Both teams have a new coach and for the most part, a new coaching staff. Both teams feature an unproven quarterback but Pro Bowl-caliber running backs. Personnel changes may have affected both defensive units. Last year the Niners were sixth in stopping the run but 24th in pass defense. The Raiders were a dismal 29th in the league stopping the run but second against the pass. Of course that was before the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha.
After watching the first three weeks of preseason, and despite the thumping the Niners inflicted on the Raiders, I’d have to say I think Oakland will end up with a better record come January. The Raider offense just looks closer to clicking than the Niners, and while I don’t think they can repeat their impressive dominance of their own division, they are mentally ready to take on the West with a renewed confidence. The Niners offense seems shaky with the inconsistent Alex Smith, and Colin Kaepernick isn’t quite ready to lead San Francisco to the promised land.
If the Raiders shore up their defense, they may even find themselves, dare I say, in pursuit of a playoff spot. Now, does that make them the winningest football team in the Bay Area? You just might want to ask the Stanford Cardinal about that.