It’s a new era for the newly-named Las Vegas Raiders. After decades in California, the Raiders are set to begin their first year in Nevada. But the expectations are high for a team that went 7-9 last season, as they are itching to return to the postseason for the first time since the 2016 season.
Odds-makers have placed Las Vegas’ over/under win total at 7.5 this season. So to take a closer look, we’ll assess their offseason moves, as well as their schedule, in order to decide whether the over or under is the right play.
The Raiders were one of the more active teams in free agency. They added a pair of linebackers who should be immediate starters, signing Cory Littleton away from the Rams and Nick Kwiatkoski from the Bears. They also signed Browns S Damarious Randall to a one-year pact. They also brought in some big names to provide some more depth on the offense. The main one is QB Marcus Mariota, who will be the primary backup behind starter Derek Carr. They also signed longtime TE Jason Witten and Eagles WR Nelson Agholor to one-year deals.
Vegas didn’t suffer too many losses in free agency either. S Karl Joseph bolted for the Browns, essentially swapping spots with Randall, and CB Daryl Worley signed with the Cowboys. They also said goodbye to a pair of linebackers, releasing Tahir Whitehead and opting not to bring back Vontaze Burfict. In addition, QBs Mike Glennon and DeShone Kizer, as well as WR/KR Dwayne Harris, are all out of the silver and black.
Thanks to two first round selections, the Raiders were able to address their two biggest needs. They took the speedy Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III followed by Ohio State CB Damon Arnette seven picks later. Both players should be able to carve out starting roles right away for coach Jon Gruden’s team. Later in the draft, they continued to add weapons for Carr, selecting Kentucky WR/RB Lynn Bowden and South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards with back-to-back selections in the third round. Clemson LB Tanner Muse and OG John Simpson, followed by Louisiana Tech CB Amik Robertson, wrap up Vegas’s draft class.
Like the rest of the AFC West, the Raiders will play their division rivals twice each, plus the AFC East and NFC South. Although there are some tough opponents sprinkled into the schedule, Las Vegas only has the 21st-most difficult schedule. Their upcoming opponents combined for a .496 winning percentage in 2019, with only the Chargers’ opponents having a lower percentage in the division.
Fortunately for the Raiders, tough games against the Saints, Bills, and Buccaneers are all at home. The first of those is a Week 2 matchup against New Orleans on Monday night, the first home game at brand new Allegiant Stadium. They play all of those teams, plus road games against the Patriots and Chiefs, within the first seven weeks of the season. They also have at-large games at the Browns and hosting the Colts.
The Raiders are one of the tougher teams to predict. On one hand, they gained a lot of players and improved in several areas while only losing a few players. Then again, the division around them has improved vastly, and they have a lot of young players that could experience some growing pains.
Ultimately, I think 7.5 is a great number to put them at, as seven or eight wins seem like the likeliest outcome when you break down the schedule. But due to a defense that is still probably the worst in the division, and with some questions regarding Carr, I’ll take UNDER 7.5 wins for the Raiders. Take the Raiders UNDERs at www.1PayPerHead247.com; our favorite pay per head bookie site.