By the time the 2019 season was over, the Oakland Raiders were packing their bags for Las Vegas. Following a spectacular splash in the draft and free agency, the Raiders are entering the 2020 season with high hopes. Head coach Jon Gruden is still scowling, but there is a knowing smile lurking underneath those writhing lips.
Our current to win division odds show the Raiders (+900) are a longshot to win the AFC West. Vegas has even longer Super Bowl Odds, coming in at 50-1. Am I suggesting that you bet the entirety of your war chest on the Raiders unseating the Chiefs? Certainly not, but the “new” football team in Las Vegas will definitely make the AFC West race interesting. It helps that the Raiders have the 12th-best strength of schedule in the league, coming in at .496.
This article dissects the Raiders 2020 regular season into four quarters, with win-loss predictions in each quarter. Those win-loss predictions will then be balanced against our regular-season wins odds, to determine an appropriate over/under pick. All of the tools you’ll need to have success betting on the NFL, are available on our sportsbook. Before we break down our expectations for Las Vegas in the upcoming football season, let’s revisit the 2019 Oakland Raiders.
Regular Season: 7-9
Veteran QB Derek Carr quietly threw for over 4,000 yards in 2019, though the Raiders’ offense was hobbled by injuries. Carr is an MVP-caliber player with a winning attitude. In 2017 MVP voting, Carr finished third behind Tom Brady and the winner of the award, Matt Ryan. Early 2020 MVP odds cast Carr (+8000) as a longshot, and he’s an intriguing risk-reward gamble. Carr has plenty of potent offensive weapons at his disposal, and the Raiders’ offense shouldn’t be underestimated.
Darren Waller is a top-five TE, and the Raiders have future Hall of Famer Jason Witten backing him up. Las Vegas scooped up two promising WRs in the NFL Draft, snagging both Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards. Ruggs and Edwards are expected to share starting duties with Hunter Renfrow and Zay Jones.
RB Josh Jacobs tore up the field in his rookie campaign, rushing for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns. Jacobs is positioned to improve upon his virgin voyage, one that earned him Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. You can pick the winner for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020 from our OROY odds.
The defense had nowhere to go but up, and they’ve improved quite dramatically in 2020 on paper. Las Vegas brought in two starting linebackers by signing Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton, while drafting LB Tanner Muse.
Bringing in Rod Marinelli to coach the D-line was a brilliant move, in that it serves two purposes. Marinelli should have instant success with an improved defensive line, while serving as a possible replacement for DC Paul Guenther. In two seasons with the Raiders, Guenther has overseen one of the worst overall defenses in football. One way or another, that distinction of inferiority is about to change for Las Vegas.
The Raiders set sail on the 2020 season in Carolina, upending the Panthers with a late game-winning drive. Week 1 NFL odds have Vegas (-120) as 2½-point favorites, and the author expects the Raiders to win by three. Las Vegas plays host to New Orleans in Week 2, and the final outcome sets the tone for the Raiders’ entire season. Week 2 NFL odds list Las Vegas (-110) as 4 ½-point underdogs, but you can bet the moneyline on Vegas. Carr will shine in prime time, staggering the mighty Saints on MNF.
The Raiders head into Foxboro to battle the Patriots in Week 3, but look a little gassed on short rest. Las Vegas loses a close game to New England, and then get beaten in a knock-down drag-out brawl with Buffalo. The most important gain from this initial quarter for the Raiders is their team swagger. Las Vegas knocks off a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the Saints, and doesn’t lose by more than 10 points. As Ali G would say, “Respect!”
Las Vegas loses its third consecutive game in Week 5, getting whipped by the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Raiders limp into their Week 6 bye, regrouping to come out and stun Tom Brady’s Buccaneers in Week 7. Next, the Raiders trip over the Browns and fall in Cleveland, before thumping the powerless Chargers in Los Angeles.
The Raiders set up camp at home in Weeks 10 and 11, blowing out the Broncos and slipping past the world champion Chiefs. That’s right. Another big-ticket item on the 2020 bucket list has been crossed off. Another juggernaut lost its soul in Las Vegas. Can’t you feel the Raiders’ collective excitement?! Gruden lets out a giggle.
Not so fast! We’ve got plenty more football to play yet. The Falcons peck out the Raiders’ eyes in Atlanta during a Week 12 torture session, resetting Gruden’s scowl. In Week 13, the NY Jets prove to be terrible hosts. The Jets refuse to cater to the Raiders’ every whim, and send them back home unsatisfied.
The Raiders get in a groove in their last four games, gaining steam for the playoffs. Wait, what?!? Las Vegas silences Philip Rivers and the Colts in Week 14, before thumping the Chargers yet again in Week 15. The Dolphins earn a hard-fought victory vs the Raiders in Miami during Week 16, but Las Vegas rebounds quickly. The Raiders complete the series sweep on the Broncos in Week 17, closing out the regular season with a bang.
The new-look Raiders are locked and loaded for an adventurous season. The author predicts the Raiders to finish 9-7, good enough for second in the AFC West and a playoff spot. Who knows what will happen from there?
Let’s compare my win-loss premonition with the BetUS regular-season wins odds. The over/under is currently set at 7½ , so smart money is on the Raiders winning at least eight games. A winning bet of $230 on the over (-115) boosts your war chest by $200.