Today’s the day. NFL preseason schedules kickoff tonight with a match up between the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans.
Every year, the articles that draw the football fans in are the NFL Power Rankings. Whether it be on Bleacher Report or NFL.com, the updated rankings allow fans to size up their teams against foes.
Taking a look at NFL.com analyst Elliot Harrison‘s preseason ranks, both the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers are on different sides of the spectrum.
Let’s start at the bottom, the New York Jets are ranked no. 32 and the Cleveland Browns are ranked no. 31. The 49ers? No. 30.
After a 2-14 season, tied for worst in franchise history, owner Jed York decided enough was enough with former-GM Trent Baalke and the two parted ways. Needless to say head coach Chip Kelly was out too.
Now it’s the Lynch-Shanahan era for the Faithful and it’s already looking surprising with two solid first-round draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Although there are plenty of question marks surrounding roster spots, it’s at least a step in the right direction.
The biggest strength that Harrison put on the ranking was the signing of QB Brian Hoyer, who will certainly be the starter from day 1.
Remember, Kyle Shanahan wanted Brian Hoyer in free agency. On Monday night’s episode of ” Training Camp Primetime,” NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport detailed how well Hoyer knows Shanahan’s offense. (Defensive coaches are getting pretty frustrated with the QB’s ability to complete passes against whatever they throw at him.) Another point worth leaving here: For all the hubbub around Jay Cutler’s signing with Miami, don’t forget that Hoyer clearly, clearly outplayed him in Chicago last season.
Let’s climb the latter a little bit. That’s an understatement, actually. Let’s climb it toward the top as the Raiders are ranked no. 4 on Harrison’s list.
The Silver and Black finished last season with a 12-4 record, enough to enter the playoffs with head coach Jack Del Rio.
They put up a terrific offensive attack that began with QB Derek Carr, who unfortunately went down with a season-ending injury in week 16. Imagine if he was still around for the wild card match up against the Texans. You better believe they would’ve steamrolled or, at least, put up a great fight against Houston.
As long as the offense keeps up, especially with the newly-added Marshawn Lynch at runningback, Harrison believes the Raiders will be a big contender this season.
Hearing bigly things about Marshawn Lynch at Raiders camp, while Oakland can make a case against any of the teams immediately below. Much like Atlanta, there are league observers who wonder about the shift in offensive philosophy, post-Bill Musgrave. The other side of the ball has been problematic for Jack Del Rio, save for an abysmal playoff game at NRG Stadium. Still, you don’t want to overreact to an unwatchable postseason game in Houston.
You can see the full NFL.com Preseason Power Rankings here.