In The Bettors Corner: Las Vegas Raiders


Unfortunately for the Raiders, what happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas. The Raiders defense was equally bad wherever it went. Las Vegas gave up 30.8 points at home and 29.1 on the road. Not exactly a great way to spend your first year in the city of Sin. The Raiders' defense was historically bad at every level. They were ranked 25th overall and in the bottom five in points given up(29.9) and yards per game(389). They only had 15 turnovers which ranked 30th in the NFL. After beating Denver on November 15th, the Raiders were 6-3. They lost five of their last seven games while giving up 34 points a game. After giving up 200 yards rushing in back-to-back weeks to the Jets and Indianapolis, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was fired in only his second year. Gus Bradley was hired in the off-season to be the defensive coordinator. Bradley was the coordinator in Seattle from 2009-2012, where he ran the famous Legion of Boom defense. Raiders signed defensive lineman Gerald Mcoy and Yannick Ngakoue to bolster a pass rush that ranked 29th with 21 sacks in 2020. They also signed veteran cornerback Casey Hayward who is in his ninth year, and brought back safety Karl Joseph after he spent one year in Cleveland. And rookie safety Trevon Moehrig, who was considered the number one safety by many in the draft, should be a plug-and-play guy.

Offensively the Raiders have as much firepower as any team in the NFL. They averaged 27.1 points a game. And ranked in the top eight in yards per game( 383.3). Derek Carr threw for 4,100 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2020 while having a quarterback rating of 101.4. Carr is in the fourth year of head coach John Gruden's offense. Josh Jacobs is coming off back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, and tight end Darren Waller had his best season as a pro in 2020, catching 107 balls for almost 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Raiders play seven playoff teams from 2020. And, of course, play Kansas City twice. They open on Monday night football in Las Vegas, which may be one of the wildest scenes Vegas has ever seen. And a tough week two at Pittsburgh follows. Over the next five weeks, they only play one playoff team ( Chicago at home) before getting their bye in week eight. They travel three times to the 1 o'clock time zone ( New York Giants, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland). After Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, they finish playing three playoff teams in the final five weeks, all on the road( Cleveland, Kansas City, and Indianapolis).

The Raiders finished 8-8 in 2020 but easily could have been 11-5 if not for the total collapse of the defense in at least three games. However, the defense will definitely improve under Gus Bradley and inch their way to the middle of the pack defensively in the NFL, which is all they need to be with an offense that is as explosive as the Raiders. Derek Carr continues to get more comfortable in Gruden's offense, and he will have another 4,000-yard season. The schedule isn't easy, but with Denver, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and the Giants all before Thanksgiving Day, it should be enough to get them to eight wins.

Las Vegas Raiders over 7 wins.

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