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Bold Predictions--Just Win, Baby

Bold Predictions--Just Win, Baby

You can reach me by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

You’ve seen them on TV countless times, the Oakland Raider fans dressed up in spikes and chains. They’re screaming, yelling, rattling their chains and supposedly turning McAfee Stadium into the infamous “Black Hole”. ESPN.com recently ran an article that centers on one such fan who goes under the moniker of “Spike”. The ESPN writer caught up with Spike, whose real name is Mark Shadinger of Sacremento, the morning of a home game against Denver:
"Today we raise hell. Today we turn the Black Hole into an absolute jungle. No mercy today. It's the Broncos."

Seven hours later, the Oakland Raiders are about to take the field against the Denver Broncos. Every beer-chugging, street-strutting, look-at-me-the-wrong-way-and-I-might-pop-you-in-the-mouth Raiders fan is charging toward McAfee Coliseum, eager to not miss a play.
Spike’s brother goes as the character “Howie”, presumably a tribute to ex-Raider Howie Long. He talks tough:
"We're evil. We're the devils, the degenerates.The Raiders, man. We're the bad guys. The misfits. I watch T.O. run his mouth off and I think to myself, 'Keep it up buddy and the sooner you'll be out here with us.' We're the guys that nobody wants their daughters to marry."
However, as the article title says, these vicious-looking characters are just that, characters. They’re all bark and no bite.
Three of the most visible Raider fans out there -- the go-to guys for photographers looking for that fan reaction shot -- are more Saturday morning cartoon characters than Friday night devil worshipers. They tell you they want Mike Shanahan on a stick. That they want someone to clothesline John Lynch. But then you find a neon green children's book in the back of the Durango, complete with a pop-up rubber football that squeaks when you squeeze it.

"Oh, that's for the kids," Spike says.

The Black Hole? It's more like a pink locker room.
Teams do not always take after their fans or vice versa. However, in this case, no matter which is the chicken and which is the egg, the team is just like its most noted fans. It lives off of the tough, bad-boy, misfit image but that’s just an image.

Randy Moss has left the field a couple of seconds early and delivered an ersatz moon shot in Lambeau Field, but he’s no Bill Romanowski. Warren Sapp has run through other teams’ warmup drills and mouths off on occasion but John Matuzak he ain’t. Kerry Collins used to drink too much and said some things that he shouldn’t have, but all that was years ago. He’s been nothing but a model citizen since leaving the Panthers following the 1997 season.

There is nobody else on the team who has what could be even remotely described as a checkered past unless some of them have some outstanding library fines.

It’s not like a bunch of good guys can’t go out and play some good, tough football. The Raiders, though, are a bit, well, soft. Their defense doesn’t scare anybody. They’re 19th in the NFL in rushing defense and 24th overall.

There’s not much there to put fear into opposing defenders either. Their rushing attack is 26th in the NFL. Collins’ play at quarterback has been respectable but far from spectacular.

The may have that famed “Commitment to Excellence”, but right now they are a thoroughly mediocre football team.

All in all, this team is a reflection of its head coach, Norv Turner. If you need an explanation of that, you missed the seasons from 1994-2001.

The Redskins should handle this pedestrian group. There is a temptation to say that they will handle them easily, but nothing has come easily for the Redskins this year. To take another phrase from the Raiders’ glorious past, the Redskins will “Just Win, Baby.”

Redskins 24, Raiders 17.

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How playing at Alabama may have actually hurt Jonathan Allen's draft stock

How playing at Alabama may have actually hurt Jonathan Allen's draft stock

For the past few seasons, Jonathan Allen was a stud at the heart of Alabama's defense. He was far from the only stud, however, and that might be another factor in why he slipped to the Redskins at pick No. 17 on Thursday night.

The chief concern about Allen is the health of his shoulders, but there's also the question of how he'll do when he's no longer with Nick Saban's star-laden unit. It's easy to succeed when you're a part of a loaded ensemble cast, the thinking might've gone when it came to Allen, but how will you do on your solo project?

In addition to Allen, the Crimson Tide featured Marlon Humphrey (who went 16th to the Ravens), Reuben Foster (who went 31st to the 49ers) and others, like Tim Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson and Ryan Anderson, all of whom could go in Friday's second and third rounds. Together, that's a tremendous defense, but in the NFL, they'll be striking out on their own.

MORE REDSKINS: NORMAN, COUSINS, OTHERS WELCOME ALLEN TO D.C.

That's another possible explanation for why the Redskins were able to nab what was almost a consensus top-five prospect so late in the event.

"He's a really talented pass rusher but he's always been surrounded by enough talent that it's been hard for offenses to game plan their protection for him," one NFC director of player personnel told NFL.com.

Now, it's not like Allen is joining a bunch of nobodies in Washington. Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Zach Brown will also be lining up with him in Greg Manusky's front-seven. Oh, and Allen is no slouch either — the list of his strengths in this particular scouting report contains words like "superior," "proficient," "consistent" and "excellent."

But it is probably fair to say that, comparatively speaking, the rookie won't be amongst as many skilled guys as he was in college. By rushing to the podium to snag him, however, the Redskins clearly expect him to handle the NFL transition just fine.

RELATED: REDSKINS REPORTEDLY LOOKING TO TRADE ONE OF THEIR OWN    

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Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon could be out of reach for Redskins per oddsmakers

Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon could be out of reach for Redskins per oddsmakers

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook visited Redskins Park earlier this month. The Redskins did their homework on Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in advance of the draft.

All of that pre-draft work might not matter though as Cook and Mixon will be off the board before the Redskins pick in the second round. At least according to oddsmakers.

Bovada.lv set over/under scenarios for both players. Cook lands at 38.5 and Mixon landed at 42.5.

[Related: Top end talent still available for Redskins in second round, but red flags remain]

Certainly both guys can go past the numbers established by the oddsmakers, but there's a reason drinks are free in Las Vegas. Oddsmakers tend to be very, very close when they set lines.

Considering that, if Washington wants either player, the team would likely have to trade up.

Much speculation has Cook the first player off the board to the Packers with the 33rd pick. It seems like a good fit.

[Related: Casserly says that Jonathan Allen is a more talented player than Solomon Thomas]

Mixon is more interesting. His loathsome action a few years back that was caught on video will continue to haunt him, but he will get drafted in the second round. He has the talent.

Bruce Allen has the capital to make a move. The team has nine more picks in the next six rounds. There's also the report that the team is shopping third-year pro Matt Jones.

Could a package of Jones and a late round pick entice a trade? It could.

Much like Thursday night, there will be plenty to watch Friday night.

More Redskins: Need to know: Five possible second and third round picks for the Redskins