Ever since their birth in 1960, the Raiders have been one of the truly iconic brands in the NFL. Six years after the franchise arrived on the scene, the legendary Al Davis took over as owner and built it to the Raider brand into more than just a football team. The Raiders fashioned themselves as outcasts with a wild side, which spoke to a large portion of the fan base. In addition to off the field success, the Raiders experienced prolonged on-field success as well, winning the AFC West six times in a seven-year period in the 1970s. They also won the Super Bowl in 1976 and 1980.
The other distinguishing characteristic through the years for the Raiders has been their nomadic behavior. The team called Oakland home from 1960-1981, then moved to Los Angeles from 1982-1994, only to move back to Oakland in 1995. Now on the move again, the Raiders will call Las Vegas, Nevada home starting in 2020.
Speaking of going back to places you’ve been before, the Raiders are coached by Jon Gruden, who was at the helm from 1998-2001 for his first stint. The team effectively traded him to Tampa Bay in 2002, only to watch him lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl title over his former team that very season. Gruden coached the Bucs until 2008 before moving into broadcasting. He mended fences with the Raiders organization, now owned and operated by Al Davis’ son Mark, and returned to coaching in 2018.
The move to Las Vegas has been in the works for a few years, but while the new stadium was being built, the Raiders remained in Oakland. As they begin a new era, the organization appears to be headed for a make or break year at the quarterback position. Derek Carr has been the starter since 2014 and while he’s been consistently good, he’s never risen to greatness. He did lead the Raiders to the playoffs in 2016 but suffered a broken leg before the regular season came to an end.
Other current players of note include running back Josh Jacobs, who ran for 1,150 yards as a rookie in 2019, and tight end Darren Waller, who broke out in 2019 with 90 catches for 1,145 yards. The team drafted wide receiver Henry Ruggs III in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft with the hope that he will become their next offensive star.
The Raiders franchise has always had high profile stars on the roster. Among the biggest names to wear the silver and black are quarterbacks Kenny Stabler and Jim Plunkett, wide receivers Tim Brown and Fred Biletnikoff, and running back Marcus Allen. But their true identity has often been on defense. Legendary intimidators like Howie Long, Jack Tatum, Ted Hendricks, Lester Hayes, and Mike Haynes were all players who fit into Davis' and the team's style.
Two of the biggest trades in Raiders history both came in recent years. Rather than pay high-priced extensions, the Raiders twice opted to deal with two of their biggest stars. Pass rusher Khalil Mack was sent to the Bears in September of 2018 for a huge haul of draft capital. The Raiders received 4 picks, including first-rounders in 2019 and 2020. One month later, wide receiver Amari Cooper was sent to the Cowboys for a first-round pick.
According to DraftKings, the 2020 Las Vegas Raiders are one of the Super Bowl long shots at +6600. They are also expected to finish in the last place in the AFC West, as they are +1200 to win the division. The Broncos are +1100, the Chargers +800, and the highly favored Chiefs are -500. If you simply want to wager on the Raiders to make the playoffs, an answer of yes can be bought at +255 while an answer of no is -335.
Las Vegas Raiders Season Preview
The Las Vegas Raiders have very much been a team in transition, and while they showed moments of brilliance in 2019, their defense and their lack of offense sealed their fate 2019. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they went 7-9 last year, getting swept by the Kansas City Chiefs and blowing lead after lead throughout the season.
Some of this had to do with Derek Carr’s choking in key moments at quarterback, but that was only amplified by a subpar wide receiver core, a rookie running back, and a defense that couldn’t get a team off the field. If nothing else, the Raiders have tried to put together a winning team year after year, but never seem to have the right pieces in place.
They didn’t fare much better in 2018 either, going 4-12 and finishing last in their division. This was mainly due to John Gruden taking over as head coach and Khalil Mack getting traded midseason after a holdout. This left the team without much direction and a defense that just couldn’t seem to stop anything, which led to a lot of lost games.
The Las Vegas Raiders might just have the right pieces in place this year though, especially after acquiring Nelson Algholor, Jason Witten, Theo Riddick, and Corey Littleton during the offseason. In fact, if Witten can get back to where he was with Dallas several years ago, and Littleton can show his previous consistency, this might be a team with a winning record.
Top draft picks
The Raiders also got a huge boost from the draft this year, signing Wide Receiver Henry Ruggs III who will certainly come in handy when helping Derek Carr move the ball. Tanner Muse was another key draft pick by the Las Vegas Raiders and will certainly come in handy with making the defense a viable threat again.
Finally, there is Bryan Edwards. Another wide receiver that could also be a big help when it comes to finding consistency with Derek Carr. Interestingly enough, with Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, Nelson Agholor, Jason Witten, and Josh Jacobs all lining up on offense this season, the Raiders could end up gaining a big uptick on offense.
Vegas did have some departing players as well as Karl Joseph, Tahir Whitehead, Benson Mayowa, and Deandre Washington all left in the offseason. Joseph will probably end up being the biggest loss for the Raiders so far due to his ability to intercept the ball and back up the offense, but Tanner Muse should step up into that role quite nicely.
Deandre Washington will also be missed given the fact that he was a suitable backup for Josh Jacobs, but Theo Riddick might just be the guy to top him. Of course, that doesn't mean he will be running in for a touchdown every single week, it just means he could come in handy during trick plays and key third-down situations.
Whether fans want to admit it or not, this is going to be a do or die season for Derek Carr as the Las Vegas Raiders starter. Not only is that evident by how Carr always seems to choke during big-game situations, but also by his inability to move the ball game after game. In the end, he is not someone who can afford to underperform this season and needs to step up to keep his starting role.
If not, he will surely end up losing the job to Marcus Mariota at some point in the season and have his future in the NFL jeopardized. Some might see this as ridiculous due to his disastrous injury record, but all Mariota needs to do is keep impressing during practice and the job could be his.
The dreaded sophomore slump is something a lot of players must deal with. While we would hope Jacobs isn’t subjected to that kind of torment, the jury is still out on whether he will or not. With that being said and the great numbers that Jacobs put up last season, he might just be able to step it up in 2020 and help his team reach a coveted playoff spot.
There’s just something about Tanner Muse that screams dangerous. Maybe that has to do with his 73 tackles last season, or his team-leading 4 interception, but the man is obviously capable of great things on the defense side of the ball. Hopefully, he will be an instant factor at safety this season and is able to help get opposing teams off the field during tough games.
According to fanduel.com, the Raiders are predicted to win 7.5 games this season. This puts them at -105 on the over and –115 on the under. As for making the playoffs, the Raiders currently stand at +320 odds to make it to the postseason. They are also the favorite to miss the playoffs in their division, which speaks to the lack of confidence everyone has in them
Adding salt to the wound, the Raiders are tied with the Broncos as the worst team in the division and the Raiders even have the worst over/ under of the entire AFC West. Lastly, the Raiders are 30/1 of winning the Super Bowl.
Derek Carr losses starting job
Derek Carr has shown a lot of consistency over the last couple of years, but never enough to get his team to the promised land. Furthermore, Carr seems to choke under pressure in big moments and doesn't really have a suitable wide receiver core to get him through tough moments. Believe it or not, that's going to eventually force the Raiders to try out Marcus Mariota at the position.
While it is arguable that Carr would be the better starter based on his numbers, those stats don’t account for how hungry Mariota is to prove just how good he is. It also doesn't account for how Mariota would do at the helm of the Las Vegas Raiders and that alone is a reason to try him out at some point this season.
Josh Jacobs rushes for a thousand yards
It’s no secret that Josh Jacobs put up some pretty good numbers in his rookie year last season and one can probably expect him to do it all over again in 2020. The reason for this is that the Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in the league and should make it easy for Jacobs to cut up the field in key situations.
In the end, it’s not a guarantee that he posts good numbers again, especially with the dreaded, sophomore slump looming, but he just seems too consistent to fall into that trap. Jacobs is also a guy that is starting to show more potential at the wide receiver position, which could lead to him becoming a threat in the air as well.