The Las Vegas Raiders beat the Chiefs, Saints and Browns last season and went 8-8, finishing second in the AFC West. Sounds pretty good and it was. Unfortunately they once again collapsed in the second half of the season. After going 6–3 to start the year, they ended up winning just two of their last seven games and pushed themselves out of playoff contention. That’s makes two seasons in a row they’ve had similar collapses and taken themselves out of the playoff hunt. Can they change course in 2021?
8-8, 2nd in AFC West
Points: 29.9 points per game, rank 30th
Yards: 6.0 yards per play, rank 26th
Football Outsiders Ranking: 28th
Points: 27.1 points per game, rank 10th
Yards: 5.9 yards per play, rank 8th (tie)
Football Outsiders Ranking: 14th
Super Bowl: +7000
AFC/NFC Champion: +3300
Win Total: 7 (Over -115, Under -106)
The Raiders revamped their offensive line in a big way, but it had been one of the best in the league, so the moves seemed odd. Trading Rodney Hudson away was the biggest move and it will be tough to find someone of his level to take over. They acquired DE Yannick Ngakoue in free agency who will help upgrade an awful pass rush. They also added wide receiver John Brown and running back Kenyan Drake andlet wide receiver Tyrell Williams go, who had missed the 2020 season with an injury.
Biggest question entering training camp
The Raiders are who they are. Hoping that Derek Carr will be more than above average, but not great quarterback may be asking too much. What they need is a big step up defensively and for Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards to give Carr legitimate stars to pair with tight end Darren Waller. Ruggs and Edwards development is what we’ll be watching this summer. The addition of Brown is a plus, but they need to be absolutely stacked at receiver to help elevate Carr while the defense is still hoping to get to average.
What needs to happen for the Raiders to win the Super Bowl?
Lots of elements need to come together as young defensive players will need to step up, but to truly have a shot at going deep in the playoffs they’ll need Carr and his young receivers to get on the same page quickly and move the ball consistently. Getting Ruggs to truly pressure defenses deep will be imperative and the new offensive line will need to gel and dominate from day one.
They’ve show an ability to move the ball on offense, but not much ability to stop anybody on defense. They’ll need both sides to take a step up this season to find ways to win when the chips are down in late in the season. In the end it will come down to Carr to win those games, and he’ll need to prove he can do it after faltering so far in his career. Another eight win season is viable, but past that I don’t see it happening in a tougher AFC West than last season.