Optimism abounds in the Bay Area as the 49ers and Raiders prepare for the 2015 season, just three weeks away.
And why not?
The Raiders, 3-13 last season, haven’t had a winning season since 2002. But quarterback Derek Carr looks like the real deal and rookie receiver Amari Cooper should quickly become his favorite target, forming a duo that should stretch defenses.
If Michael Crabtree can return to his 2013 form, running back Latavius Murray can help revive the running game and the defense holds opponents reasonably in check, the Raiders should at least be more fun to watch under first-year coach Jack Del Rio.
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The 49ers, 8-8 in 2014, replaced the combustible Jim Harbaugh with the likeable Jim Tomsula, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has shown signs his offseason work will pay dividends, and new receiver Torrey Smith is a proven winner.
If they can get tight end Vernon Davis more involved and running backs Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush can find holes and get outside, the offense could be explosive.
But the rest of the country doesn’t see it that way; the 49ers and Raiders are getting little respect from the national media.
Bleacher Report forecasts just three victories for each team; USA Today has both finishing last in their division at 5-11.
Bleacher Report cited the pass rush and secondary as the Raiders’ biggest weaknesses, and the website said the 49ers’ roster turnover, especially on defense, and coaching exodus will make it difficult for them to match last season’s win total.
The power rankings are equally pessimistic. The Sporting News has the 49ers 23rd and the Raiders 29th, and NFL.com puts the 49ers 26th and the Raiders 28th. CBS Sports is a bit more optimistic about the 49ers, ranking them 19th, but the Raiders are 28th.
Oddsmakers aren’t impressed either. According to Bovada, the 49ers (50-1) and Raiders (100-1) are long shots to win the Super Bowl.
So if you’re a 49ers or Raiders fan and expect great things this season, you can earn a handsome return on a $100 bet – $10,000 on the Raiders, $5,000 on the 49ers.
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