Listen up! The Las Vegas Raiders currently hold a 2-0 record. Some thought it was feasible, others didn’t. Nevertheless, a dominant 24-7 run to close the game was certainly unforeseen. That the offensive line was able to overcome early injuries and get itself together is even more surprising. Heading into Week 3, could the Raiders realistically make a run at the AFC West crown? What should we expect now?
The early returns are encouraging
First, we should slow down on our Super Bowl talk and objectively discern how good the Raiders are. They still have a daunting run of three games going forward. Their following matchups are against the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills, and the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s a tough slate, but one the Raiders can objectively take on.
In fact, these contests will give us a clearer understanding of where the Raiders currently are. Their Week 5 against the Chiefs will be key, knowing how poorly they have fared at Arrowhead Stadium. For now, we should temper expectations until Week 5. Then, we will better know how good or not this Raiders team is.
The Raiders offense is operating efficiently
Secondly though. Wow, we didn’t expect this. At least, not this way. The Raiders are 2-0 and just beat a team who were thought to be Super Bowl contenders. The way they did it was surprising. They slowed the Saints down and dominated their defense after a slow start. Tight end Darren Waller and running back Josh Jacobs have shown their performance last year wasn’t a fluke. In the offseason, quarterback Derek Carr said he didn’t care anymore about outside opinions. Surely, some fans and analysts rolled their eyes and said, “here we go again”. However, Carr outplayed a future Hall of Famer and legitimate top 5 all-time quarterback.
Expectations have definitely gone up but that’s good. This season has a different feel as the team has bought in and has a lot of continuity due to their offseason work and personnel moves. Currently, the Raiders have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. Although the season is still early, the early results are encouraging even if they still have some areas to work on.
There is still work to do though
One of those areas the Raiders need to work on is their defensive line. So, far, the unit has one sack through two games and has been a liability over the last few seasons. Last season, there was a noticeable improvement when they recorded 32 sacks, a big spike from 2018’s 13. They have put some pressure, but not nearly enough. They must bring the quarterback down often, force them to have happy feet, and rush their internal clock.
The Raiders’ front four put some pressure on Brees, which caused an interception before halftime. If they can do that to other quarterbacks on a weekly basis, their chances of qualifying for the postseason will go up. The Silver and Black definitely has the players and showed last season that they can bring opposing quarterbacks down.
What should we now expect from these 2020 Raiders?
The Las Vegas Raiders are 2-0, what are some reasonable expectations? After Monday night we should be ecstatic, but we do need to temper the hype a bit. The Raiders gave their fanbase a reason to believe this could be a playoff season. This could be a very special year. These past two weeks, Carr has given us hints that the bad years may be behind him and he could be even better than he was in 2016. On the other hand, let’s pump the brakes on any potential Super Bowl talk. For now, let’s enjoy their games, but if they head into Week 6 season with a 4-1 record, let’s adjust our expectations.
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