The Las Vegas Raiders turned over a new leaf in 2021. Even with the firing of head coach Jon Gruden, the Raiders were able to finish 10-7 and secure a wild card spot. It was the organization’s second playoff berth since its Super Bowl appearance in 2002.
Heading into this season, the Raiders have a fresh coat of paint. Josh McDaniels is the new head coach. Davante Adams joins the offense, and Chandler Jones joins the defense. Though the AFC West has become the toughest division in football, the Raiders are still in a good spot.
With all the pieces in place, Las Vegas is in a great position to succeed. So here are five season predictions for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022.
Raiders QB Derek Carr Wins the MVP Award
At Caesars Sportsbook, Derek Carr is ranked 15th at +3000 to win the award. Some of the names ahead of him don’t make sense, given Carr’s year in 2021. He had a career year, throwing for 4,804 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Carr completed 68.4 percent of his passes and averaged 282.6 yards per game, leading the Raiders to 10 wins.
Carr was one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL last year, ranking in the top 5 in completion percentage and yards. He did this with his top target being Hunter Renfrow, as Darren Waller missed six games due to injury. Now in a revamped offense, his numbers will only go up.
Carr finished third in MVP voting in 2016, where he finished with 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns, six interceptions, and a completion percentage of 63.8 while leading the Raiders to 12 wins. Carr has performed better each season and should continue that upward trend with an improved roster.
If Carr can have a better season than last year and lead Las Vegas to double-digit wins and an AFC West title, he’ll win the MVP Award.
Davante Adams & Hunter Renfrow Eclipse 1,000+ Receiving Yards
Las Vegas is expected to have a much-improved offense given the additions on that side of the ball and the hiring of McDaniels, who spent the last decade with the New England Patriots. That bodes well for the passing game and how Adams and Renfrow will perform.
Adams has become one of the top wide receivers in the NFL as he’s made the Pro Bowl in five straight seasons and All-Pro First Team the previous two. Adams has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and three total in his career. With Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball last season, Adams finished with 123 catches for 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Last year was a breakout season for Renfrow. Due to Waller missing time with injuries, Renfrow stepped into the role of Carr’s favorite target. In his Pro Bowl season, Renfrow had 103 catches for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns. The third-year receiver got praise from across the league, especially for his route running.
Though Adams will become the top target for Carr, Renfrow shouldn’t see any regression. Carr will pass the ball a lot more, giving more opportunities to the wide receivers. There is room for both Adams and Renfrow to excel in this offense, and both will break 1,000 receiving yards in 2022.
Four Defensive Players Make the Pro Bowl
The Raiders had four players represent the team in the Pro Bowl last year: Renfrow on offense; Maxx Crosby and Denzel Perryman on defense; and A.J. Cole on special teams. The AFC won, 41-35, and Crosby finished as the defensive MVP of the game. By the end of this season, the Raiders will have double the players on defense to make the Pro Bowl.
Crosby has been a staple of the Raiders’ defense since his rookie year. Last year was his first Pro Bowl appearance, along with being named to the All-Pro Second Team. Crosby finished the season with 56 combined tackles, 13 for loss, eight sacks, 30 QB hits, and seven pass deflections. Along with wreaking havoc in the backfield, quarterbacks need to watch out for him batting balls down at the line.
Perryman had a career year in his first year in Las Vegas with 154 combined tackles (102 solo), five tackles for loss, three passes defended, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble. He ranked toward the top of the NFL in tackles and was dependable up the middle for the Raiders.
After six years with the Arizona Cardinals, Jones signed with the Raiders this past offseason on a three-year deal. After only playing in five games in 2020, Jones had a bounce-back season in 2021, making his fourth Pro Bowl appearance. Jones finished with 41 combined tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 26 QB hits, six forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
The final Las Vegas player to make the Pro Bowl this season is second-year cornerback Nate Hobbs. After a successful rookie season, Hobbs is set to take the next step in his career. In 2021, Hobbs had 74 combined tackles, three passes defended, one interception, one forced fumble, and one sack. Slotted in as the No. 1 cornerback this season, Hobbs will be a top corner in the AFC.
Josh Jacobs Rushes for 1,000+ Yards
With the hiring of McDaniels and trading for Adams, the passing offense is expected to be the focus of the Las Vegas offense in 2022. However, the Raiders still have a talented running back in Josh Jacobs, who is ready to rush for 1,000 yards again.
Since being drafted in 2019, Jacobs has been the starting running back for the Raiders. Though he had a down year last season, Jacobs saw plenty of success early in his career. Jacobs owns the Raiders record for most rushing yards in the first two seasons with 2,215. He eclipsed 1,000 yards in both seasons.
As mentioned, 2021 was somewhat of a down year for Jacobs. He had 217 carries for 872 yards and nine touchdowns and averaged four yards per carry. Jacobs saw career-lows in rushing but had career-highs in receiving, as he had 54 catches for 348 yards. He has also done an excellent job of holding on to the rock with only five career fumbles.
Jacobs will compete with rookie Zamir White for carries, but it’s clear Jacobs is still the RB1. The passing game will be successful, extending to the run game. Jacobs will break 1,000 yards for the third time in his career.
Raiders Win AFC West Title
At Caesars Sportsbook, the Raiders are predicted to finish last in the AFC West. The current odds to win the division are as follows: Kansas City Chiefs (+175), Los Angeles Chargers (+220), Denver Broncos (+275), and Las Vegas Raiders (+600). Even with all of the upgrades they made and making the playoffs last year, they’re the heavy underdogs entering this season.
The Raiders made upgrades across the board, bolstering their defense and trading for an All-Pro wide receiver who already has chemistry with Carr, as the two played together at Fresno State. Las Vegas is moving in a new direction with the hiring of McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler.
The last time Las Vegas won the AFC West, they were still known as the Oakland Raiders, and they won three straight from 2000-2002. The final year they last won the division was also the year they won the Super Bowl. It will be tough to win the AFC West, but if they do, they’ll be in great shape for the playoffs.
*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal