The Oakland Raiders made the bold decision to re-hire Jon Gruden 15 years following his initial departure from the club.
The Raiders ended their playoff drought under Jack Del Rio in the 2016 campaign, but an injury to quarterback Derek Carr halted their progress in just the Wildcard Round.
Oakland endured a slump last term, dropping to 6-10 and third place in the AFC West. Del Rio was fired at the end of the season, paving the way for Gruden’s arrival.
Owner Mark Davis handed Gruden a 10-year contract to leave his role in the commentary booth worth up to $100m. As a result, there is huge pressure on the head coach to get the franchise back into the playoffs at the first time of asking.
Khalil Mack’s performances on the field earned him the defensive player of the year award in 2016. However, he was traded to the Chicago Bears after failing to agree a long-term deal in Oakland. The Raiders have bolstered their side with a number of veterans in the off-season, but their roster looks incredibly short on quality.
Greg Olson and Paul Guenther have arrived as offensive and defensive coordinator respectively, but will have a task on their hands manoeuvring through the division.
Oakland’s issues on both sides of the ball will not be resolved quickly unless Gruden and his assistants can conjure magic to improve their fortunes.
Carr was affected by a back injury last season that limited his play on the field. It was the second time in the space of a year that the quarterback suffered a problem that left the Raiders vulnerable. The first occasion was more costly, but the Raiders will be hopeful that his fitness issues are at an end. His play on the field decline as a result of his back problem.
Carr still threw 22 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions, although he was at nowhere near the level of his 2016 campaign. Two years ago Carr was considered a candidate for MVP. Gruden earned a reputation during his coaching days as a quarterback-whisperer. It will be interesting to see whether he can conjure magic to get Carr back to his best. It could well define Oakland’s season.
Marshawn Lynch does not have the same power and burst as he used to, but the veteran will be supported by the addition of Doug Martin. Both players have had impressive moments in their NFL careers, although they will have to prove that their best moments are not behind them. The same could be said for wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
He was released by the Green Bay Packers after nine years with the team. Aaron Rodgers did not want his trusted target to leave Lambeau, although his skills have been on the decline. Nelson could provide Carr with an option downfield should he have enough pace and guile to get open. There are a lot of questions marks about key members of the offense.
Amari Cooper is an All-Pro talent, but he suffered a poor campaign in 2017. The wideout notched over 1,000 receiving yards in his first two NFL terms. Cooper and Carr’s connection was huge in the 2016 season. If the two are able to rediscover their form then the Raiders may be able to compete in the division.
Oakland’s defense revolved around 2016 NFL defensive player of the year Mack. Unfortunately for the club, they were unable to come to a long-term agreement with the defensive end. They did acquire two first-round picks from the Bears in the trade, but they will be without one of the defensive superstars in the NFL.
He was sensational for the Raiders since entering the league in 2014, notching 40.5 sacks in his four seasons. The defensive end can disrupt an offense’s gameplan with his ability to beat offensive tackles with ease. His play on the line allows the rest of his team-mates to play around him, easing the burden for them to produce. Now that the Raiders have allowed him to leave, they could be selecting in the top five of the 2019 Draft – a position that was all too familiar with them for nearly 10 years.
Outside of Mack there’s next to no talent on the defensive line or linebacking corps. Bruce Irvin has had a couple of good seasons, but does not have the ability to be a number one pass-rusher. Outside of him there is inexperience in the form of Arden Key and Maurice Hurst, along with underachievers Shilique Calhoun and Tank Carradine.
The secondary needs to come to the fore. The Raiders have invested a lot of high draft picks on the unit. Gareon Conley was a spectator for the majority of his rookie term. Conley needs to find his feet quickly to become a reliable starter. Karl Joseph has been solid in his two opening years, although he needs to make more plays in the third level.
There’s not a great deal to be hopeful about for the Raiders in the 2018 season, especially if Mack leaves or does not feature. There’s not a great deal of talent on the team outside of Carr and Cooper on offense. They won’t be good enough to carry Oakland. Therefore take the under on the team to win under eight matches at odds of -118 with 888Sport and not to reach the playoffs at -180 with TopBet.
Carr and Cooper may have to have the campaigns of their life to keep the Raiders competitive. Therefore they could come into contention to lead the NFL in passing and receiving yards respectively. Take Carr to lead the league in passing at +5000 with BetOnline and Cooper at +4000 to be the leader in receiving yards with TopBet.
Lynch’s skills are on the wane, but he could run enough to get over 651 rushing yards at odds of -110 and over six touchdowns at -110 with BetOnline. Carr is in line for a stronger campaign than his last term, back him to throw over 23 touchdowns at odds of -135 and over 3,800 yards at -120 . Cooper too has to have a stronger season. Take him to record over 976 yards and over seven touchdowns at odds of -125 and -120 with BetOnline.
Oakland Raiders To Win Under Seven Matches
Oakland Raiders To Not Reach Playoffs
Derek Carr To Lead NFL In Passing Yards
Amari Cooper To Lead NFL In Receiving Yards
Marshawn Lynch To Rush For Over 651 Yards
Marshawn Lynch To Record Over Six Touchdowns
Derek Carr To Record Over 23 Touchdowns
Derek Carr To Record Over 3,800 Passing Yards
Amari Cooper To Record Over 976 Receiving Yards
Amari Cooper To Record Over Seven Touchdowns