With the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West, is it wild to believe the division is up for grabs? Well, FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd considers it open for the taking by any team. Meanwhile, Cowherd isn’t alone on the Las Vegas Raiders hype train, as NFL analyst Rich Gannon is optimistic about how his former team will perform this 2023 season.
The NFL media has a lot of optimism concerning the Silver and Black’s outlook for this season. So let’s dive into the latest.
Is the AFC West wide open for Vegas to win it?
The Chiefs still have a healthy Patrick Mahomes heading into this season. Still, that doesn’t matter, as Cowherd believes that the AFC West is open for any team to win. Kansas City has won the division for seven straight seasons, beginning in 2016. Nonetheless, could this be the year that the Chiefs’ reign ends?
Cowherd pointed out everything he likes regarding the Raiders’ squad, which could be the challenger to the Chiefs. From Jimmy Garoppolo to their weapons on offense, the FOX Sports host sees Las Vegas’ upside heading into a new season.
“It’s easy to say it’s a tough division, is it?” Cowherd said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd. “Do we trust the Chargers? Do we know what Denver is? The Raiders are fascinating to me. If you have a great edge rusher, a competent quarterback who’s been to a Super Bowl, star [running] back, star weapons, that’s a lot of the boxes to check, offensive coach. There’s a lot of things they have which other teams don’t have.”
Las Vegas has all the tools to be a playoff team; the question is, can it all gel together? Year 1 under head coach Josh McDaniels was disappointing. However, it was overshadowed by the Denver Broncos’ disaster season with Russell Wilson under center.
While the Chiefs have a tight grip on the AFC West, it’s the NFL, and anything can happen. Nonetheless, if the Raiders want to overthrow Kansas City, they’ll need to take advantage of any slip-up Mahomes and Co. will have, whether it’s a bad loss or a terrible performance in their head-to-head games.
It’s a daunting task, but it’s possible. So Raiders fans, is the division a realistic shot for Las Vegas? Let us know what your thoughts are.
Rich Gannon is cautiously optimistic about the Raiders in 2023
Cowherd believes that Las Vegas can win between 10 and 12 games this season, and he might not be alone. Gannon also shares an optimistic view of the Silver and Black heading into the Garoppolo era. Now, he doesn’t say that the AFC West could be open, but the former signal-caller sees a high win total.
Last season, the Raiders won six games, and Gannon believes it will double to 12 wins. The NFL analyst is all in on the offense, as the team has the weapons to be a high-scoring unit. Garoppolo will hold the keys, but it seems the 57-year-old is confident in “Jimmy G.”
“I am cautiously optimistic about my Raiders in 2023,” Gannon told The 33rd Team. “I just think there’s a certain comfort level with Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s got a history with Josh McDaniels from their time together. He is a different player than when he left New England. If he can stay healthy, he’s going to have a special season.
“I think the key is, can they get Josh Jacobs back? If they can get him in here in the next week or so and get him up and running, I think the Raiders can be pretty special on offense.”
Is Rich Gannon a believer in the Raiders’ Defense?
Even though the offense has the chance to be special, many, including Gannon, have questions about the Raiders’ defense. Yes, the group has Maxx Crosby, but where is the support coming from? Still, the former quarterback believes the key to the defense lies on the opposite end of Crosby.
“I think they’ve improved at all three levels of their defense, but here’s the key for the Raiders defensively,” Gannon added. “Jones has to play better than he did a year ago, and Tyree Wilson, he looks like he’s got a chance to be a pretty special player. If they can get some juice and productivity off the opposite edge from Maxx Crosby, I think the Raiders can get a whole lot better defensively.”
Rich Eisen recently stated that if Las Vegas wants to clinch a playoff spot, their performance in September will be vital. How the Silver and Black perform out of the gate will set the tone for their season. Nonetheless, Cowherd and Gannon are two NFL media members who bought stock early in the Raiders’ potential.
Now the question is, will Las Vegas make their predictions valid?
*Top Photo: Jeb Jacobson/Getty Images