Heading into the 2021 NFL season, DraftKings Sportsbook installed the Las Vegas Raiders as long shots to win the Super Bowl at +10000. At the time, it was understandable to see why Las Vegas had those type of odds as did not make any major moves in the offseason and play in one of the tougher divisions in the NFL — the AFC West, which has the perennial Super Bowl favorite Kansas City Chiefs.
Outside of the AFC West, the Raiders would be competing with the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers for playoff spots.
However, through the first two weeks of the regular season, Las Vegas has defeated two of the teams previously mentioned and increased their odds to win the Super Bowl at +5000. The Raiders opened up the season with an incredible 33-27 overtime win over the Ravens at home, where they forced former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson into two turnovers, which was the difference maker.
On offense, quarterback Derek Carr made plays with his arm to keep his team in the game, including the last minute drive in the 4th quarter, which led to the game-tying field goal. In overtime, he sealed the game with a game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Zay Jones.
Fast forward to Sunday’s action, where the Raiders carried their momentum over from their overtime win to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-17. Las Vegas’ defense did an excellent job of stopping the Steelers’ run game, holding them to 39 rushing yards. They also forced QB Ben Roethlisberger into an interception and sacked him two times.
On the offensive side of the ball, Carr once again had a stellar game, completing 28-of-37 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns. One of those TD passes went to second-year wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, who led the Raiders with five receptions (seven targets) for 113 yards.
With the running game non-existent, Las Vegas needed their passing game to be crisp and it was, thanks to Carr getting eight different players involved. Out of that group, five players ended up with five receptions or more.
The Raiders are now among the handful of teams who have started off the 2021 season with a 2-0 record. That is good company to be in as it could be a precursor of things to come. But they’ll need to show they can do it for another week against a Miami Dolphins’ squad that may or may not have second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.