Winless Teams Through Three Weeks Typically Doomed
With three weeks in the books, only two NFL teams stand without a win: the Houston Texans and the Las Vegas Raiders. And of these two teams, only one team stands with an 0-3 record: the Raiders. The Texans are supposed to be here but the Raiders? It’s not looking so good for Josh McDaniels and the crew. The NFL odds have all but counted them out for the playoffs.
Since the 1979 playoff expansion, only six teams have managed to make the postseason when starting 0-3. Coincidentally, the Texans are the last team to pull this off when they won nine straight games and finished 11-5 in 2018. Do the Raiders have a similar run in them? Or is it safe to put a fork in this team already?
McDaniels is not McLovin’ It
The Las Vegas Raiders lost a tight contest at Tennessee to end Week 3 still shy of a victory. The Raiders pulled an opposite result of Week 2’s meltdown against Arizona: They fell behind 24-10 in halftime and fell short of a comeback. Las Vegas may have only lost all three games by a total of 13 points. But this team has no wins and its odds to make the playoffs are lower than five percent.
It’s only McDaniels’s first year as the Raiders’ coach and yet it already feels like he’s in the hot seat. The renowned Bill Belichick disciple had to have a long meeting with owner Mark Davis. There are obviously concerns as this is far from what the team envisioned after a big offseason.
#Raiders coach Josh McDaniels enters interview room after a lengthy closed-door meeting with owner Mark Davis.
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) September 25, 2022
The Raiders went 10-7 in 2021 and made the playoffs for the first time since relocating. As an encore, the team made big acquisitions by trading for star wide receiver Davante Adams and signing stud defender Chandler Jones.
The team is showing flashes. But the fact they can’t put it together to win at least one game is telling. McDaniels will most likely get the whole season to prove he can squeeze the full potential out of this team. But so far, he’s been a bad bet online for Las Vegas.
The Good News: It Gets a Bit Easier
Optimists can look at the Raiders’ remaining games and feel relieved that they have one of the easiest schedules left. Las Vegas did just play three upper-tier teams in the Los Angeles Chargers, Cardinals and Titans. The latter two made the playoffs last season and the Chargers are a top-six team in Super Bowl LVII odds.
Vegas will still have to rematch the Chargers and face Kansas City twice. But it gets a few winnable games beginning with this week’s home date against the anemic Broncos. In Week 6, the Raiders also host fellow winless team Houston. They then make trips to New Orleans and Jacksonville.
The Raiders should be favorites on the online sportsbook against at least three of these teams. Las Vegas can be 4-4 by Week 10 when it hosts the inconsistent Colts. The middle of the Raiders’ schedule is also manageable as a visit to Seattle is sandwiched between a trip to Denver and the rematch against the Chargers.
If Las Vegas splits these games, it will be 6-6 going to the final five games of the season. Again, these games are winnable, especially if circumstances “help” the Raiders a bit.
The Home Stretch: Hold on to Your Seats
Traveling to SoFi Stadium to face the Rams on a short week could be a loss for the Raiders. NFL predictions will peg them as underdogs. But three of the final four matchups are home games: New England, San Francisco, and Kansas City.
Las Vegas can beat the Patriots and the Chiefs, especially if Kansas City has already clinched and will rest its starters. The Raiders also have a road game at Pittsburgh, which remains a wild card, though early signs point to this team struggling to score.
We’re not suggesting it will happen. But it is still within realistic considerations that Vegas finishes with a 9-8 or 10-7 record even with the 0-3 start. However, the team will have to stay healthy and play more consistently and will need to get lucky to clinch that final wild-card spot.