So for lack of tangible NFL news I decided to whip together a quick post. If you took the best players from the 49ers and the best players from the Raiders, would you have a Super Bowl favorite? Some would argue right now that the 49ers are playoff bound, and from there, the verdict isn't in as far as how deep they can go. As for the Raiders, they seem to be a little bit further off with a clear-cut contender in the San Diego Chargers trying stop them. Nobody can deny, however, that the Raiders are vastly improved since last year.
They've upgraded at a few positions, the least of which is definitely not the quarterback position. To go from JaMarcus Russell to Jason Campbell is like going from... well... let's leave it at that, I think that improvement will be the definitive reference for going from laughably bad at a position to, at the very least, passably competent.
The 49ers have made upgrades exactly where they need to, filling returner and offensive line positions that sorely needed to be improved. Whether or not the rookies will perform, who knows - but at least the fans can feel better going into the season on at least the hope that the players can be good. After the jump, I take a look at offense.
Quarterbacks- Jason Campbell, Alex Smith
I think this bit is a push at the moment. Campbell has overall shown more than Alex, but after Smith's year in 2009, nobody is sure where he'll go. Will he continue to play at that level, or not? Either way, the quarterback position is still a question mark for our fictional super bowl contenders.
Running Backs- Frank Gore, Darren McFadden, Moran Norris
Frank Gore unquestionably is the starter on this team, and is a Super Bowl talent type of running back. In Oakland, there is controversy between Michael Bush and McFadden, but I give the slight edge to McFadden as a change-of-pace as well as being "Al's pick." Moran Norris is the fullback by default, but I imagine he won't get much playing time. Read on to see why.
Tight Ends- Vernon Davis, Zach Miller
Now THIS is a strong position. Davis gets the nod for his monster year last year, but considering the teams' less-than-stellar wide receiver positions, I believe there would be a good number of two-tight end sets. Miller is one of the most under-appreciated tight ends in the league, and most definitely Oakland's best receiving option. Have these two out there, with Gore in the backfield, and kick in the receiver below and.. well..
Wide Receivers- Michael Crabtree, Louis Murphy, Josh Morgan, Chaz Schilens
Not exactly the strongest bit of receivers, but with the two tight ends, Crabtree can be a dominating force. Murphy isn't a bad option by any means, but has a lot to prove. Morgan and Schilens are about on the same level, with the edge going to Morgan.
Offensive Line- Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Eric Heitmann, Robert Gallery, Anthony Davis, Bruce Campbell, Mario Henderson
The first four of these are set in my mind - Staley, Iupati, Heitmann and Gallery, but the right tackle position is a push. Can Henderson kick out there? Is Davis going to be good? Who knows? What we do know is that Gallery is criminally underrated at the right guard position (after basically gunning for the bust label at the left tackle position) and the rest of them are very good starters. Heitmann should be a top center in the league and Iupati is just based on many, many projections.
So a starting offense with Jason Campbell/Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Zach Miller, and Michael Crabtree - is it a Super Bowl offense? It's certainly a playoff contending offense. With a good line, who knows? I'd say no, this is NOT a super bowl FAVORITE offense, but it's definitely a bundle of potential.
In a few days, I'll be looking at the defense. The Raiders didn't have a huge presence on offense in this post - but they very well might have a big one on defense in the next post. Actually, they definitely will.