The Oakland Raiders are good again.
Yes, the Raiders, who haven't had a winning record since they lost the Super Bowl in 2002. The same Raiders who have gone through nine coaches during that span and went 7-9 and last season to finish in the bottom half of the league in both total offense and total defense.
That same franchise will contend for a Super Bowl title in 2016.
It has been a miserable decade for Oakland fans, with a possible relocation (Las Vegas?) only making things worse. But for a variety of reasons, there is hope in the short term. Here's why:
Talent at the skill positions
Let's start with the most important piece of the puzzle: quarterback. Two years into his career, the jury remains out on Derek Carr. He completed 58 percent of his passes while averaging 5.5 yards per attempt as a rookie. But Carr supporters were quick to point to the fact that he was a second-round pick asked to deliver 599 pass attempts to one of the league's worst receiving corps. Last season showed that there was merit to that theory. With Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree added to the Raiders' arsenal, Carr's completion percentage (61 percent) and his yards per attempt (7.0) increased. That's a good sign, but he still finished below league average in both categories, which suggests there's room for even more improvement in 2016.