The Raiders have moved more than any team in the NFL – don’t fact check me on that because I’m just making that up.
But seriously, they were in Oakland for decades, then they went to Los Angeles for years, then back to Oakland … now they are starting a whole new era outside of California … but still close enough for their Southern California fans to drive over for a few games per season.
The Silver and Black are in Las Vegas and they have a brand new, state of the art stadium to call home. So, will their move to Las Vegas bring them luck? Well, unfortunately, the bookmakers don’t think so. Right now, at Betonline the Raiders futures odds are +4000, these odds put them in the middle of the league in a group of six, who share the same number. The Chicago Bears, the Atlanta Falcons, the Tennessee Titans, and the Cleveland Browns. But hey, Raiders fans, the Denver Broncos are +5000, so gotta take those small victories!
This trio is looking to pick up right where they left off.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) July 22, 2020
So, it isn’t looking like the Raiders are going to make a move and immediately win. They have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL for the second year in a row. On top of that, the AFC is just too talented … specifically in their own division where the Kansas City Chiefs lie. Outside of the Chiefs, the Baltimore Ravens are expected to win 12 games and the most likely circumstance is the AFC Championship game showing these two teams on the marquee.
Let’s forget the lofty dreams of hitting the road to Las Vegas and heading directly to the Super Bowl and focus on Week 1 and the road contest against the Carolina Panthers.
Week 1: Raiders @ Panthers
I’ve seen the odds and this one is pretty much the Raiders favored by one point everywhere you look. I look at it this way, I can play the Raiders -1 for -110 or just take them on the MoneyLine at -119 and basically buy a whole point for half the cost. Normally, if you wanted to buy a half-point, you’d be driving your juice up 10 cents to -120… so I see this as a good deal. I don’t play for pushes unless I really feel like a need a safety net, and that isn’t the case here.
That said, it is a risky play. I’m riding off the well-known fact that Jon Gruden goes big early – he loves to start out strong, and usually does.
Early in the offseason, I thought this would be a blowout win for the Raiders… Then the Panthers went and snatched up Teddy Bridgewater from the New Orleans Saints and the -1 line seems right on point.
With DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey, I feel like the Panthers have the edge with targets for Bridgewater. But although McCaffrey is all-around a better back than Josh Jacobs, the Raiders have a deeper RB corps and will be able to spread the touches out a little better to keep fresh legs pounding the rock. This isn’t necessarily good for Fantasy Managers, but it’s great for sound, real-world football strategy.
Defensively, I give the edge to the Raiders as well. Just by a smidge. I think they get a bit more pressure pushing into the backfield and get a few more hits on Teddy than the Carolina front will be able to put on Carr. The fact that the Panthers will be at home is what really makes this a close game, as home field advantage is typically worth a field goal.
Still, I expect the Raiders to come out hot and force a win in Carolina. It will be ugly, but they’ll get it done… Just barely. With Coronavirus messing up team practices until recently, Teddy Bridgewater won’t have the same amount of time on the field with his new teammates to find a rhythm in the new system. He’ll still be working the kinks outcome the first Weeks of football. That said, this Carolina team could surprise us once Teddy makes the adjustment and end up being a solid team in the South.
But that will be after a Week 1 loss to the New Look Raiders.
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*Top Photo: Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal