2015 NFL Predictions: Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons Sleepers


Who will be the sleeper teams of 2015? The Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons are poised to jump with four or more wins baby! 2015 NFL Predictions. Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in today’s NFL Sports Debate. Check out more of the brothers in Seesaw Sports Debate on BuzzChomp. Two brothers from New York yell, scream, and debate sports.


We’ve already predicted the worst-to-first and dud teams of the 2015 NFL season. However, there is one more group of teams to discuss prior to getting into the postseason minutia of preseason predictions. That group is sleeper teams.

Sleepers are defined (in a definition I am making up on the fly right now) as a team that wins four or more games than expected at any level of the league. If a team was expected to go 1-15 by all accounts, it getting to five wins would be incredibly sleeper-ish. Likewise, if a 10-win team blows the doors off its opponents and goes 14-2, that is still sleeper status and probably much more important in the scheme of the season.

For sleepers for 2015, I am intrigued by a couple AFC East clubs; the Titans, Vikings and Rams are also bordering on sleepers status. The correct answer here though is the Oakland Raiders.

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Oakland went 3-13 last season, somehow avoiding the worst record in the conference. Despite that distinction, the Raiders had the worst point differential in the entire league. However, the tide around Raider nation is changing.

Second-year quarterback Derek Carr is getting loads of buzz from seemingly everyone around the NFL. Rookie receiver Amari Cooper, veteran Michael Crabtree and second-year back Latavius Murray give him a trio of talented skill players to work with. The defense could be respectable as well, but it will need improved play out of the secondary and a major contribution from rookie Mario Edwards.

Oakland went 0-8 on the road last year. With games at Cleveland, Chicago, San Diego and Tennessee, it won’t go 0-8 again. The team was also just 2-5 in one-score games last season. An uptick towards mediocrity in that regard will help as well.

Going 8-8 or 7-9 isn’t a major accomplishment for most clubs. It would be a considerable step up for the Raiders though. The team hasn’t finished above .500 since its Super Bowl season of 2002.

Aug 21, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back

Michael Ford

(38) celebrates his touchdown run during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Falcons 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports


I thought I wasn’t going to like your NFL Sleeper pick, but I too am firmly on the Oakland Raiders bandwagon this season. Derek Carr is the primary reason why, but in a quarterback’s league, it’s the best reason there is.

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One other team has caught my attention this offseason, and falls squarely into your definition of NFL Sleeper. It’s not the Vikings or the Rams, although I believe both teams put up excellent showings in 2015. The team I’m referring to finished third last season in the worst division in football.

The Atlanta Falcons are my sleeper pick for 2015. After a pitiful 6-10 season, the Falcons are in line for double-digit wins and that 4 game jump you identified as our benchmark. Atlanta was 5-1 in its division last year, and should find similar success in 2015. The NFC South still looks mediocre, but Atlanta is now the exception.

Matt Ryan has a solid core of players around him on offense. I’m a big Jacob Tamme fan, and a strong tight end is key to offensive success. Add in Julio Jones and a healthy Roddy White (hopefully), accompanied by an upstart young running back tandem, and the Falcons offense will be clicking.

I worry about Atlanta’s defense a bit, but their schedule helps them a lot in that regard. Outside of its division, only games against the Cowboys and Colts appear as major tests. Atlanta will bounce back strong this season, winning their division in the process.

Dan Salem is a Staff Writer for NFL Spinzone. He’s also Lead Editor, Staff Writer, and Featured Vlogger at BuzzChomp, and a New York Jets Analyst for Pro Football Spot. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Instagram.

Todd Salem is a Staff Writer for NFL Spinzone. He’s also a Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp, a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report, and an Analyst for Tipster Labs, among others. Follow him on Twitter.

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