2021 Las Vegas Raiders Betting Preview
2020 was an uneven season for the Raiders as their offense was powerful, but their defense struggled mightily. Former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was fired following a Week 14 loss to the Colts in which Indianapolis scored a whopping 44 points on their hapless defense. In his place, Las Vegas hired new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, and he hopes to bring with him a new identity of toughness and competitiveness on defense.
Offensively, the Raiders did quite well. Derek Carr finished in the top-12 of both passing yards and touchdowns and had the 10th-best passer rating in the NFL. Darren Waller is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL and the Raiders have lots of wide receiver talent headlined by veterans John Brown and Hunter Renfrow as well as second-year, high-upside receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards. Josh Jacobs is also one of the better running backs in the NFL, and Kenyan Drake is an excellent backup.
The Raiders were highly competitive last season and outperformed expectations against many strong teams thanks to a high-flying offensive attack, but their defense ultimately let them down as they missed the playoffs. They’ll be hoping for the type of defensive improvements that put them back in the playoff hunt.
2020 Las Vegas Raiders Team Stats
Points For: 434 (27.1 per game), 10th of 32
Points Against: 478 (29.9 per game), 30th of 32
Passing Yards Per Game: 263.6
Rushing Yards Per Game: 263.3
Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 119.8
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 125.8
Key Offseason Transactions
The most notable part of the offseason for the Raiders was a series of wholesale changes on the offensive line. Center Rodney Hudson was traded to the Cardinals, offensive tackle Trent Brown left in free agency, and offensive guard Gabe Jackson was released. Richie Incognito and Kolton Miller were resigned as the only returning starters on the offensive line. At the same time, Nick Martin replaces Hudson at the center, and Denzelle Good was resigned to take over for Jackson at guard.
The Raiders will be hopeful that first-round pick Alex Leatherwood can be a high-level starting right tackle in replacement of Brown. Their draft history has been less than stellar recently, but early camp reports on Leatherwood are promising. The Raiders also added some high-upside safeties Trevon Moehrig, Divine Deablo, Tyree Gillespie, and linebacker Malcolm Koonce in the draft.
Las Vegas brought in some key veterans who they hope will improve their defense in cornerback Casey Hayward and edge Yannick Ngakoue, who are likely immediate starters for their new team. The team also added Solomon Thomas and Quinton Jefferson to provide some depth on the defensive line. I’m very excited to see what the Raiders’ defense looks like with these additions and the change at defensive coordinator.
Finally, the Raiders brought in some offensive depth in the form of John Brown, their replacement for Nelson Agholor, and Kenyan Drake. Agholor is coming off a career year for the Raiders with 48 catches for 896 yards and 8 touchdowns, and he’s headed to the Patriots. While Ruggs and Edwards are likely going to take on larger roles this season, Brown will still have an important part to play in the offense. Vegas handed Drake a surprisingly large contract, and while Jacobs is still the incumbent starter, it remains to be seen how much Drake will factor into the offense.
2020 Las Vegas Raiders Betting Stats
ATS +/-: -1.7
Total +/-: +6.0
2021 Las Vegas Raiders Betting Preview
The Raiders had an up-and-down 2020 season, and it shows in their betting metrics as they came in at .500 in both their record straight up and against the spread. Las Vegas beat some great playoff teams in the Saints, Chiefs, and Browns and got walloped by the Colts and Falcons. Most notable were the Raiders’ struggles down the season’s stretch as they started the year 6-3 in their first nine games and went 2-5 in their final seven games. More consistency from the Raiders this season could see them make a push into the postseason.
With a balanced, efficient offensive attack and a porous defense, it was no surprise that the Raiders finished with the highest rate of overs in the NFL. They allowed 40+ points in three different games and 30+ points in over half of their games. The total went over in 80.0% of Raiders’ games last year and on average their games’ combined points total was over the sportsbook projection by 6.0 points. Gus Bradley should right the ship some this season, and it’s unlikely they are that lopsided in terms of the points total again.
2021 Las Vegas Raiders Super Bowl Odds
The Raiders have won the Super Bowl on three different occasions, most recently in 1984. However, the odds-makers in Las Vegas don’t seem to think their hometown team has a great chance of accomplishing that feat this year as they have just +10000 odds to win the Super Bowl. That’s tied with the Eagles and ahead of only six teams in the NFL. The Raiders had just +4000 odds to win the Super Bowl before last season, so these odds reflect the public thinking that the team is worse – I don’t believe that to be the case. I’m certainly not projecting the Raiders to make the Super Bowl this year, but the case can be made that there is a good value at these odds.
2021 Las Vegas Raiders Playoff Odds
It’s been a while since the Raiders made the playoffs – their last postseason berth was in 2016. It’s been even longer since they’ve won a playoff game. In fact, their last win in the playoffs was when they lost to Jon Gruden’s Buccaneers in the Super Bowl in 2002. Las Vegas currently has +365 odds to make the playoffs; only the Jets, Bengals, Lions, and Texans have worse odds. The offensive line should be pretty solid (if everyone stays healthy) despite all of the turnover, and Gus Bradley should improve the defense. With an experienced quarterback in Derek Carr and plenty of offensive talent, the Raiders could make a surprise playoff bid this season.
2021 Las Vegas Raiders Win Total Odds
The Raiders currently have a projected win total of 7 games for this upcoming season, a number they have reached in each of the last two seasons. Now, they have an extra game during the slate to get to that mark. While I do think the Raiders have a chance to get to 7 wins, they do play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, with the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers also in the AFC West. Las Vegas faces the eighth-most difficult schedule in the NFL, with playoff teams in the Ravens, Steelers, Bears, Browns, Colts, and Washington Football Team on the slate. However, this is a playoff-caliber group, so this could really go either way.
2021 Las Vegas Raiders Players Futures Odds
In 2016, Derek Carr led the Raiders to a 12-3 start and was a legitimate MVP candidate before Matt Ryan ultimately won the award. Carr threw 29 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions in 15 starts that year before suffering a season-ending injury that kept him out of the playoffs. That Raiders team had a similarly strong offense this year, but their defense was better in key areas than recently. Could the hiring of Gus Bradley be enough to push this team back into playoff contention? If so, Carr at +6500 for MVP seems like a stellar value.
An offensive lineman has never won Offensive Rookie of the Year. There are better offensive linemen in this draft class than Alex Leatherwood (Penei Sewell, Rashan Slater, Alijah Vera-Tucker, to name a few), so Leatherwood isn’t in contention for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Trevon Moehrig at +2000 is an interesting candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but a secondary player has only won the award once since the turn of the century.
Josh Jacobs has 19 rushing touchdowns through 28 career games, a rate which would be good for 11.4 rushing touchdowns over a 17-game slate. There is strong potential for value on an over-under for 9 rushing touchdowns for Jacobs. I also like the Josh Jacobs prop of over/under 1,050.5 rushing yards as he has surpassed that number in each of his two seasons so far in just 13 and 15 games. The NFL community is sleeping on Jacobs after the acquisition of Kenyan Drake, and I believe there are plenty of touches to go around for Drake to play a part and Jacobs to be still highly productive.