Barring any significant preseason injuries, the Raiders figure to enter the 2016 season as one of the trendiest playoff picks. The only issue is that their immediate path to the postseason is blocked by the Broncos, so they'll likely be forced to snag a wild-card spot.
Based on the Raiders' recent activity on Twitter, though, they're eyeing to steal the division crown instead. At the very least, they're aiming to end the Broncos' run as the best defense in the AFC West.
The Broncos caught wind of the Raiders' social media activity. So, as a proper response, they took a picture of John Elway reacting to the Tweet.
And his reaction alone says it all:
The Raiders ended up responding with a Vine of Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin at practice. Irvin, of course, is the prize of the Raiders' free agent class -- a group that also includes cornerback Sean Smith, offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, and safety Reggie Nelson. Perhaps the best way to sum up the Raiders' free agent acquisitions is the following quote from general manager Reggie McKenzie:
"It's good to see people call us and not always have to beg."
The Raiders then added to the defense via the draft by selecting safety Karl Joseph in the first round.
The Broncos, on the other hand, spent much of the offseason being gutted. Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan are gone. So is Brock Osweiler. The team might need to rely on Mark Sanchez as a bridge quarterback before Paxton Lynch is ready.
Still, I'd hesitate to call the Raiders the favorites in the division. Despite their promise -- highlighted by Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Mack -- they still only won seven games a season ago. The Broncos, while losing plenty of players, still have most of the parts to their historically great defense. And let's not forget about the Chiefs, who won 11 games last year.
I'm not saying the Raiders can't win the division -- they can -- but making the leap from promising to the playoffs isn't an easy task.