Mark Davis will finally get his wish this season with the Raiders relocating from the Oakland Coliseum to Allegiant Stadium, a start-of-the-art dome in their new home city of Las Vegas. Jon Gruden and the Raiders outpaced their meager expectations last season with a 7-9 overall record, which included an 8-8 against-the-spread mark. The Raiders beat preseason expectations by running off an impressive 7-2 record in one-score games in 2019.
The Raiders seemingly either won tight contests or they got blown off the field with an 0-6 record in contests decided by three scores or more, which resulted in them missing the playoffs (-800 odds). The Raiders finished 9-7 toward under totals after scoring the ninth-fewest points per game (19.6) while allowing the ninth-most points per game (26.2).
The Raiders are getting slightly more respect this season after topping their 2019 season win total (6) by a full victory. They went over last season’s win total with a Week 16 victory over the Chargers. Las Vegas’ 2020 season win total climbed by a full victory to seven wins, and they’re +305 to make the playoffs this season. Entering training camp, I have the Raiders power rated as the 24th-best team in the NFL (+6600 to win Super Bowl LV), as the 12th-best team in the AFC (+3000 to win the conference), and as the worst team in the AFC West (+1100).
|Week||Opponent (spread if available)||Time|
|1||@Carolina Panthers (-1)||1|
|2||New Orleans Saints (+4.5)||8:15 (Mon)|
|3||@New England Patriots (+5.5)||1|
|5||@Kansas City Chiefs||1|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8:20 (Sun)|
|9||@Los Angeles Chargers||4:05|
|10||Denver Broncos (-2)||4:05|
|11||Kansas City Chiefs||8:20 (Sun)|
|13||@New York Jets (+1.5)||1|
|14||Indianapolis Colts (+1)||4:05|
|15||Los Angeles Chargers||8:20 (Thurs)|
Key Off-season Moves
Cory Littleton (LB)
Henry Ruggs (WR)
Marcus Mariota (QB)
Carl Nassib (DE)
Nick Kwiatoski (LB)
Bryan Edwards (WR)
Damon Arnette (CB)
Jason Witten (TE)
Maliek Collins (DT)
Lynn Bowden (RB)
Nelson Agholor (LV)
Prince Amukamara (CB)
Tahir Whitehead (LB, Car)
Karl Joseph (S, Cle)
Vontaze Burfict (LB, FA)
Dwayne Harris (WR, FA)
Mike Glennon (QB, Jax)
2020 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||7 (-110/-110)|
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
The Raiders have a chance to go over their season win total because of the coaching job done by Jon Gruden in his first two seasons since coming out of the broadcasting booth. I didn’t think the second act to his coaching career would go so well, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by his performance turning around this franchise despite an ugly .344 winning percentage (11-21 record).
Gruden did more with less last year, adapting his offense and focusing the passing game around Darren Waller after Antonio Brown went bonkers before the start of the season. Derek Carr and company actually had an efficient season despite the lack of receiving weapons, averaging the eighth-most yards per play (5.9) and the seventh-most yards per pass (7.5). Gruden and Mike Mayock made sure they loaded up on playmakers in the draft, adding Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, and Lynn Bowden to bring more explosiveness to this passing attack.
The Raiders also loaded up on defensive help during free agency to help a defense that allowed the seventh-most yards per play (5.9) and the ninth-most points per game (26.2) a year ago. They signed the likes of LB Cory Littleton, DE Carl Nassib, LB Nick Kwiatoski, CB Prince Amukamara, S Damarious Randall, and DT Maliek Collins to totally revamp their entire defense. They reached a bit to draft CB Damon Arnette with their second pick of the first round, but they’ll essentially add two first-round players to their secondary this year. S Johnathan Abram, a 2019 first-round pick, played just 48 snaps because of a shoulder injury in last season’s opening game.
I don’t have a lot of positive takeaways from the Raiders brutal schedule, which ranks as the fourth-toughest and the toughest in AFC West based 2020 season win totals (per Sharp Football). At least they’ll be playing in a state-of-the-art stadium after decades of threatening to leave Oakland. They could also get the “Vegas Flu” advantage that the Vegas Knights got when they first opened play in Sin City with their opponents enjoying the Vegas nightlife a little too much. As you can tell, I’m really reaching for a positive with their schedule.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
The Raiders didn’t win a single game decided by a margin of more than a touchdown last season, and they finished 7-2 in one-score contests. That could be a recipe for disaster if some of those close games go against them this season, and they have the type of schedule that could make it difficult to pull out close games.
Get ready to hear about the Raiders traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast for early-kick games this season. They have a whopping six games scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. on Sundays this season. They can stay out on the East Coast just once as just two of those games are scheduled as back-to-back in Weeks 12-13 against the Falcons and Jets. That’s a whole lot of travel back and forth to their new home in the desert.
The Raiders also have an absolute gauntlet of games in Weeks 2-7 (NO, @NE, Buf, @KC, bye, TB) after opening the season on the road against the Panthers. They also drew the Colts and the Browns as their extra AFC games this season, who they’ll be contending with for AFC Wild Card spots. I wouldn’t be shocked if a QB controversy starts brewing around midseason if the Raiders get off to a slow start through the first seven weeks of the season.
The Raiders brought in Marcus Mariota to give Derek Carr some competition, and Jon Gruden has always had a thing for the 2015 #2 overall pick dating back to “Gruden’s QB Camp” show on ESPN. Mariota will try to pull what Ryan Tannehill did to him last year when Tannehill took the Titans to the AFC Championship after supplanting Mariota as the team’s starting QB in Week 7. The Raiders will try to catch lightning in the bottle with one of their quarterbacks. I believe Carr is the better option and that he should get a long leash, but we’ll see how Gruden plays it. We’ll also see if having Mariota as a threat to play behind Carr helps or hurts the team.
The Raiders also attacked their weak defense this off-season, but they could still have major issues in their secondary unless 2019 first-round pick Johnathan Abram and 2020 first-round pick Damon Arnette can step into the lineup and immediately boost this unit. Cornerback play could anchor down this team after they tied the Bengals by allowing a league-high 7.8 yards per pass. Poor cornerback play could be a major problem going against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs passing attack twice a year and going against what should be an improved Broncos passing game, as well.
Notable Player Props
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Derek Carr: passing yards (3300.5), passing TDs (19.5), most passing yards (+6000), MVP (+8000)
Fantasy Points Projections: passing yards (3925), passing TDs (23)
Best-case scenario: Carr thrives in a much-friendlier passing game environment after the Raiders drafted Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, and Lynn Bowden to improve one of last year’s worst receiving corps.
Worst-case scenario: The Raiders get off to a rough start going against a brutal first-half schedule and Jon Gruden makes the switch to Marcus Mariota to jump-start his floundering team.
Josh Jacobs: rushing yards (1100.5), most rushing yards (+1400), OPOY (+6600)
Fantasy Points Projections: rushing yards (1215)
Best-case scenario: Jon Gruden goes to more of a ground-and-pound attack with more 12 personnel on the field, and Jacobs’ carries climb to 20+ carries per game after averaging 18.6 carries per game last year.
Worst-case scenario: Jacobs gets game-scripted out of too many games to be among the league leaders in rushing with the Raiders struggling and falling behind in too many games against a tough first-half schedule.
Darren Waller: receiving yards (900.5), most receptions (+6600)
Fantasy Points Projections: receiving yards (820), receptions (70)
Best-case scenario: The Raiders get even more creative lining Waller up all around the formation and he continues to be the focal point of this passing attack even with some new additions to this receiving corps.
Worst-case scenario: Jon Gruden really leans into a ground-and-pound approach with more 12 personnel sets and veteran TE Jason Witten becomes a thorn in the side for Waller’s production in 2020.
Hunter Renfrow: receiving yards (700.5)
Fantasy Points Projections: receiving yards (690)
Best-case scenario: Renfrow continues to be a perfect fit for conservative QBs Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota after finishing 11th in yards per route run last season with 2.09.
Worst-case scenario: Renfrow can’t find the field nearly as much as he did in the second half of last season because of a much deeper receiving corps in Las Vegas and because of more two-tight end sets.
Best Bets and Leans
Be sure to check out all of our staff Best Bets for NFL Futures.
The Raiders had a bit of good fortune to get to seven wins last season. I’m having a difficult time seeing them reach eight wins to clear their season win total this season against what is a brutal schedule, especially in the first half of the season. I’m leaning toward the Raiders under seven and a half wins in 2019, but I’m ultimately staying away because of how well Jon Gruden has coached up inferior talent the two last seasons. Las Vegas’ cupboard is finally starting to fill up with some skilled players so I wouldn’t be surprised if Gruden’s teams keep trending upward.
I’m expecting the Raiders to struggle out of the gates with their tough schedule to open this season. I think Gruden won’t be able to help himself when it comes to his crush Marcus Mariota. I’m expecting Mariota to be starting games by midseason (we’ll see how many) if the Raiders get off to a 1-6 or a 2-5 start this season under Derek Carr, which is very much in play. Gruden’s potential dalliance with Mariota will hurt Carr’s overall season numbers so I’m leaning toward Carr under 3500.5 passing yards this season.
The Raiders didn’t win a single game decided by more than a touchdown last season, and they finished 7-2 in one-score contests. Las Vegas seems to be leaning into their one-score success from last season with potentially more of a ground-and-pound approach to keep games tight. They loaded up on defensive help this off-season, and they now run three deep at tight end after signing future Hall-of-Famer Jason Witten. In general, I’ll be looking more toward under totals with the Raiders this season, and I’ll be looking to bet on them when they’re getting three or more points and I’ll be fading them when they’re favored.
Best Bets: None
Leans: Raiders under seven and a half wins (-115, FanDuel)…Derek Carr under 3500.5 yards (-110, FoxBet). Risk one unit to win .91 units.