Raiders Odds for 2019 Super Bowl Lengthen Massively

Well, the best news for Raiders fans is that the season is finally over. 2017 was a huge disappointment for a team that showed so much hope and harbored real Super Bowl aspirations. A combination of poor defensive play and below average play calling means it wasn’t to be the Silver and Black’s year but, despite these troubles, there is plenty to look forward to; namely, we are one season closer to seeing the Raiders moving to Las Vegas.

Prior to the season starting, some bookmakers had the Raiders’ odds of winning the Super Bowl as short as 6/1. This was more a reflection of the sheer number of wagers placed on the team, rather than their actual chances of winning the Super Bowl, and the belief they were a strong ‘outsiders choice’ to go all the way. It seemed completely fair to expect them to bounce back after the 2016 season was basically cut short by a devastating injury to quarterback Derek Carr, but alas it wasn’t to be.

Looking forward to next season and the Raiders are 30/1 to win the 2019 Super Bowl, according to Las Vegas Sportsbook. This sees them ranked 17th favourite in the NFL, at the same odds as division rivals Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, while the Denver Broncos sit further back at 40/1. Perhaps the major surprise on the list is fellow Californians the San Francisco 49ers, who sit at 20/1, thanks purely to the 5-0 stretch the team ran at the end of the year with new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm.

The Raiders have plenty to be excited about after the announcement that Jon Gruden is returning as head coach. The coach, nicknamed ‘Chucky’ due to his fiery personality, had a successful stretch with the team in the early 2000s before he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he won a Super Bowl in 2003 against the Raiders. Gruden likely would have won a Super Bowl with the Raiders a year earlier had it not been for a certain ‘tuck’ rule that still angers Raiders fans 15-years later.

Expect to see the Raiders odds begin to shorten as the season approaches, as 30/1 is far too long for a team that was among the NFL’s best merely one season ago. If the draft goes well and the team can secure one or two big names in free agency, then the Raiders odds should drop to around 20/1, leaving them equal with some of the other main AFC names. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the 2019 NFL Conference Champions odds to see the likelihood of having a Raiders vs 49ers Super Bowl, which would take place in Atlanta despite the teams being only 33 miles apart.

Raiders face make or break only six games into 2017 Season

To say the 2017 Season for the Raiders has been ugly would be an understatement. Star players getting injured, poor defensive play and the best division in football have all contributed to a 2-4 start to a season where the Raiders were the popular outsider’s choice for Super Bowl champions.

Everything started well with two comfortable wins, away to the Titans and at home against the Jets, scoring a total of 71 points in the process and Marshawn Lynch looking like the running back of old. Since then the Raiders have lost four straight games, two of which were to division rivals, and not had a game leading passer, rusher or receiver in any of those games. The offense ranks 30th for total yards per game, well down on what was expected from this offense that was so promising a year ago.

Of course, Derek Carr going down with a back injury in week 4 against the Broncos was not good. He did end up missing only one game, but it won’t help the team at all if he is dealing with this injury for the remainder of the year and not able to play at his usual standard, especially considering EJ Manuel did not play too badly in his two appearances as a Raider.

The team does face a make or break game on Thursday night football against the NFL leading, 5-1 Chiefs. Kansas City has been on a tear after demolishing the defending champion Patriots in week 1, but their slip up did come last week against the Steelers in battle of AFC powerhouses. A win over these inter division rivals could easily give the Raiders their swagger back to run the AFC West for the rest of the year, despite currently being at the bottom of the division.

After opening anywhere between 12-1 and 20-1 (depending on where you looked) to win the Super Bowl, the Raiders now sit at 40-1. For a team sitting at 2-4 and bottom of their division, those odds aren’t that enticing. Only six teams have better odds than the Raiders from the AFC.

Earlier this week, the Chiefs opened as 2.5-point favourites, with the total points for the game being placed at 47.5. All bar one of the Raiders losses have been by more than three points, whilst all the Chiefs wins have come by seven points or more. Kansas has used its run game to substantial success so far this season, but with the Raiders recently signing surprise free agent LV Navarro Bowman that could come to a halt.

Sadly you would expect Kansas City to both cover the spread and help surpass the low points total as they outmatch Oakland in all the major areas so far this year and will likely do so in person on Thursday night.

Latavius Murray to test Free Agency

When the Vegas Raiders take to the field, they may do so without the services of Latavius Murray, aka ‘Tay Train’, and probowler running back.

Even though Murray declared his love for the Raiders and said he’d like to finish his career with the silver and blacks only a couple of months ago, it seems he is going to see his market worth to the rest of the NFL.

Various sources report that Tay Train may then resign to the Raiders once he’s tested the waters.  So if this is a way to increase his paycheck or a serious attempt to move, we’ll have to wait and see.

Latavius Murray Stats

Year 2016 2015 2014
Rushes 195 266 82
Regular Season Yards 788yds 1066yds 424yds
Average yardage 4.0yds 4.0yds 5.2yds
Season long 42yds 54yds 90yds
Touchdowns 12 6 2
Number of receptions 33 41 17
Reception yards 264yds 232yds 143yds

Future contract negotiations on the mind

The 2016/2017 season was brilliant for the Raiders in multiple ways, and it’s key that supporters and fans alike don’t forget that. The emergence of three world class players means this Raiders roster finally has talent in crucial places for years to come. The problem with that? Contract negotiations.

On offense, Derek Carr firmly stepped into the spotlight as one of the best quarterbacks in the league in only his second professional season. Before a late season leg break spelt heartbreak for the Raiders, Carr was on pace to be in the MVP conversation along with eventual winner Matt Ryan and superbowl champion Tom Brady. He improved his quarterback rating by five points and halved the number of interceptions from his rookie year. This all amounts to one thing- he should get paid like one of the premier quarterbacks in this league. The Raiders have waited so long for a quarterback of this calibre and they simply cannot let him walk away to another team, so re-signing Carr will be step number one this offseason or next.

Still on offense, you can’t forget about Amari Cooper. The AC-DC connection has been potent since day one, and you can see how good their chemistry is on the field. As with Carr, the Raiders have waited so long for a top tier wide receiver that they will almost certainly re-sign both of these two at the same time. Cooper may not be paid in the same tier as Julio Jones, AJ Green or Antonio Brown, but for sure he will be up around that top-tier. These two together will take up a large portion of cap space that may see some other cap causalities in people like Latavius Murray, Michael Crabtree or Mychal Rivera.

The Raiders defense starts and ends with Khalil Mack. There is nothing the newly crowned NFL Defensive player of the year cant do on that side of the ball as a one man wrecking ball. To what level Mack gets paid will be interesting though. Mack has a doppelganger in Von Miller, who in turn just got the biggest non-QB contract ever. Now its important to note that Miller has accomplished much more than Mack at this stage of his career, but that’s not to say Mack wont eventually get there. There are very few players that can do what these two do, and there is no doubt that Millers contract will come up when the negotiations begin.

The situation with Mack differs slightly over Carr and Cooper as he enters the final guaranteed year of his rookie deal, so if he is to stay long term they would want to get a contract worked out this offseason. There is an option in the contract for an extra year, which would be a no-brainer should the two parties not be able to work something out this offseason.

The Raiders come into this offseason projected to have the 11th highest cap room in the league. Normally that would mean a big free agency, but in this case it’s more crucial to solidify the team for years to come and take some talent to Vegas.

Double Boost for the Defence

The Raiders welcomed a double boost to their defence on Superbowl day.

First of all, sack-machine Kahlil Mack was voted Defensive Player Of The Year by the Associated Press at the Sixth Annual NFL Honours.  Mack becomes only the second Raider in history to receive the award after corner Lester Hayes way back in 1980.  This also comes off the back of being proclaimed the defensive player of the year by the Pro football Writers earlier in the month.

Khalil Mack finished the 2016 season with 11 sacks, five forced fumbles and 56 solo tackles. Of the fumbles, Mack recovered three of them and managed to take his sole interception all the way to the house.

Then, later in the day, the Raider’s D learned that pass rusher Aldon Smith is expected to be re-instated in March.  Smith is a former first-round pick who had 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons (in a less than competitive team) before succumbing to off-the-field issues.

Aldon Smith and Khalil Mack crashing the edges on a custom blitz anyone?