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Oakland Raiders Season Recap
Words by: Adam Trent

After years of hardship, the Oakland Raiders finally had a reason to be optimistic heading into the 2016 NFL season. Young stars Derek Carr and Amari Cooper helped give the team an explosive offense, and a few key free agent signings looked like they would shore up a struggling defense. While the Oakland Raiders probably outperformed everyone's expectations in an extremely tough division, it is hard for fans of the franchise to not be disappointed by the way the season ended.

After struggling to make stops on defense during the first two games of the season, it looked like the Raiders may be in for another long season. Derek Carr quickly turned into one of the best quarterbacks in the league, which helped the team overcome any mistakes made by the defense. The Raiders split their opening two games against the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons before going on to win nine of their next 10 games. The Raiders looked like they were in great shape to win the AFC West and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs after securing a tight win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16.

The win over the Colts gave the Raiders their first playoff appearance since making Super Bowl XXXVII, but it was hard for the franchise to celebrate the accomplishment. Quarterback Derek Carr broke his fibula in the win, which forced him to miss the rest of the season. It was a devastating loss to the team, as conversation. The Raiders lost their chance to host a playoff game after losing to the Broncos in Week 17. Backup quarterback Matt McGloin also got hurt in the loss. This forced the Raiders to rely on rookie Connor Cook in the playoffs.

The injuries to Carr and McGloin caused the Raiders to go from strong contenders in the AFC to underdogs in the opening round of the playoffs. Connor Cook had to make his first career NFL start in a road playoff game against the top defense in the league. Cook completed only 18 of 45 passes in an extremely ugly 27-14 loss to the Houston Texans.

The Oakland Raiders far exceeded expectations by winning 12 games this season, but it is hard not to dream of what could have happened with a healthy Derek Carr. The Raiders had a heartbreaking end to their 2016 season, but they still have an extremely bright future. Even if the Chiefs and Broncos improve in the offseason, Derek Carr should have no problem getting this team back to the playoffs next season. He just may have to do it in front of some new fans.

The Raiders franchise recently applied for relocation to Las Vegas, and it looks like this move will be approved by the NFL sometime in early 2017. This deal should make fans of the Raiders even more optimistic about the team's future. A new stadium deal will give the team more money to sign free agents in the off-season. A rapidly improving team with new resources can be scary in the NFL, and that is exactly what the Raiders will become when they get to Las Vegas.