5 Bold Predictions for Las Vegas Raiders in 2020

Derek Carr (Ed Zurga/Associated Press)

Las Vegas Raiders Start the Season 5-0

The Raiders start with the Carolina Panthers, who moved on from both their longtime head coach Ron Rivera and quarterback Cam Newton. Week 1 is probably the best time to play the team since it could take them a few weeks as they iron out their new identity. Week 3 poses a similar situation, though to a lesser extent. The New England Patriots still have Bill Belichick but without Tom Brady, there could be some growing pains early in the year.

Now, the New Orleans Saints in Week 2 is not going to be a cakewalk. This is a team with first-ballot Hall of Famer Drew Brees under center, paired with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. But consider that this is the opening game in Allegiant Stadium on Monday Night Football, fans can believe that the Raiders are going to bring their A-game.

The Raiders return to Allegiant week four to host the Buffalo Bills. The biggest issue will be their defense, which ranked third in yards-per-game in 2019. Carr will have to watch out for Tre’Davious White, a top corner in the league. With a flurry of options at the receiver position, it shouldn’t be too difficult to navigate away from them. Their run defense is their weaker point, ranked tenth in the league, so expect a healthy dose of Josh Jacobs. On defense, if Paul Guenther can get a game plan that stops big plays from Stefon Diggs and John Brown, it is very winnable.

If the team makes it to week five undefeated, now this prediction becomes twofold. The Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead are an environment that the Derek Carr-led Raiders historically struggle. So if they come in undefeated it will be a lot of pressure on the team. However, if they rise to the occasion, Carr can finally get that monkey off his back and be on track to punch a ticket to the playoffs.

Related: CBS Sports Makes 3 “Bold” Predictions For 2020 Raiders

Derek Carr Quiets His Doubters, Gets a Contract Extension

That last bold prediction leads right into this one. The Nation has been polarized for the past few years behind a love/hate relationship for Carr. Some still have hope that he can return to his 2016 form when he was an MVP candidate before breaking his leg. Since then, his detractors have noticed that he is skittish in the pocket and struggles to move past his first progression.

Still, most would agree that he still has the potential to make big plays. He is a better fit than people admit for Gruden’s offense and enters the same system for a third year for the first time in his career. Last year he dealt with losing his top wide receiver before he even took the field. Even with a dearth of wide receiver options, Carr still had the most efficient year of his career. He completed over 70 percent of his passes and threw 21 touchdowns to only eight interceptions.

In addition to finally having a consistent offensive system, he has what might be his best supporting cast ever. Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller already established themselves are top options at their position, and most of his offensive line remains intact. Gruden and Mike Mayock addressed the weak link of the offense in a big way with Ruggs and Edwards.

Carr knows there are no more excuses. He has been vocal about his desire to prove that he can lead this team to the promised land. After he establishes himself early in the year and proves that he is finally over his injury, the front office will reward him with a second contract extension. This will tie him to the team for the foreseeable future before the season even ends.

Las Vegas Raiders Win a Playoff Game

All of these bold predictions come down to this. With Edwards as Carr’s go-to target, a defense that can make stops when it needs to, and a playmaking Carr, this team will make the playoffs. But that is just the beginning. It might be premature to predict Las Vegas can win the division. The Kansas City Chiefs are fresh off a Super Bowl victory but come back with basically the same cast. So, they will have to go on the road for their first game, but they will win that matchup.

Gruden and Carr are out to prove that they aren’t just going to lie down. They aren’t going to just give the Chiefs the division for the next ten years. Andy Reid is a few years ahead of Gruden in terms of building up the team, but a playoff win at this point is the next step for the Silver and Black. And in 2020, their first team in Las Vegas, it isn’t crazy to believe it could happen.

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Top Photo: Brett Le Blanc Las Vegas Review-Journal

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