Is This The Year the Raiders Put It All Together?

Through the first nine games of the 2020 season, the Las Vegas Raiders were back, Baby! The Raiders won six of their first nine games, including a win over the defending Super Bowl Champs at their own place. 

Then it all turned in NFL Week 11. 

Las Vegas looked primed to improve to 7-3 with another statement win over the Chiefs when Derek Carr hit Jason Witten for a 1-yard touchdown pass for a 31-28 lead with just under two minutes left in the game.

But that proved to be too much time left on the clock for Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes found his favorite target, Travis Kelce, for a 22-yard score with 28 seconds left for the game-winning score.

Instead of the Raiders moving to 7-3 and knocking KC down to 8-2, Las Vegas fell to 6-4 and never recovered. The Raiders finished the season with an 8-8 record and missed out on the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

Despite a plethora of talent returning on the offensive side of the ball, Las Vegas over/under win total is only projected at 7.5 this season, according to BetUs — one of the top sportsbooks at onlinesportsbetting.com.

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Tough Road Ahead

The low win total may be a direct correlation to the Raiders’ strength of schedule this season. Based on 2020-21 win totals, the Raiders have the eighth toughest schedule this season. Las Vegas opponents this season finished last season with a combined winning percentage of .526 (142-128-2). Of course, facing Kansas City twice does not help matters any. 

Schedule Breakdown

Las Vegas will be tested right from the beginning. In NFL Week 1, the Raiders welcome Baltimore to Allegiant Stadium, where fans will be allowed to watch the Silver and Black for the first time in two years. 

Baltimore is the slight favorite to win the AFC North and enters the Week 1 matchup as a 4.5-point favorite. Bettors pulling for the upset can get odds on the Raiders on the Moneyline with +175 odds.

From the Monday night opener, Las Vegas travels to Pittsburgh for another stiff test from an AFC North foe in NFL Week 2.

NFL Weeks 3 and 4 are now easy tasks either, as the Raiders host Miami before traveling to Los Angeles to face the Chargers in the first divisional game of the season.

Las Vegas has the Chiefs in NFL Weeks 10 (home) and 14 before traveling to Cleveland in NFL Week 15.

In their final non-divisional game of the regular season, the Raiders travel to Indianapolis in NFL Week 17.

Getting Offensive

Las Vegas did not miss the playoffs for a fourth-straight season last year due to lack of offense. The Raiders put up 27.1 points per game — good for 10th in the league. Carr completed over 67 percent of his passes for 4,103 yards and 27 touchdowns on the season.

Pro-Bowl running back Josh Jacobs scored 12 rushing touchdowns to go along with 1,065 yards on the ground. 

First-Team All-Pro tight end Darren Waller hauled in 107 receptions on the season for 1,196 yards to go along with nine TDs. 

Hunter Renfrow, Henry Ruggs, and Bryan Edwards will also look to step up their offensive production from the wide receiver slots after the departure of second-leading WR Nelson Agholor. And the addition of Willie Snead will also help add to the Raiders’ WR depth.

Kenyan Drake was also added to compliment Jacobs in the backfield and should also give Carr another option in the passing game as well.

Can the Defense Bend and Not Break?

As mentioned above, the offense was not the problem last season. Las Vegas ranked 30th in points allowed at just under 30 per game and 25th in yards allowed from scrimmage. With all the talent not only in the division but also in the rest of the games on the schedule, the Raiders defense will once again be tested. 

Divisional Odds and More

According to Bovada — another one of the top sportsbooks at onlinebettingsports.com –, Las Vegas is selected to finish in the cellar of the AFC West, and its odds of winning the division is +1600.

Kansas City (-275) is the heavy favorite, followed by Los Angeles and Denver, both at +500.

For those bettors looking for a narrower range when it comes to betting the win total, BetUs has a winning margin. Betting the Raiders to win 0-4 games carries +400 odds, 5-9 games is -300, 10-14 has +450 odds, and 15-17 wins is set at +6600. 

Prediction

Adding Pro-Bowler Yannick to the defense will help, but the talented defensive end will not be a savior alone. The Raiders are still going to have to win shootouts to be competitive within the division, which is not a good recipe for success and, in this case, to hit the target for season wins. 

2021-22 Season Record: 7-10, 4th in AFC West

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