Fading The Las Vegas Raiders In A Loaded AFC West

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Things are good for the Las Vegas Raiders entering 2022, right?

The Raiders traded for one of the best wideouts in the NFL and hired a new head coach with several Super Bowls as a coordinator. Even better, that new head coach was an offensive coordinator and the rules skew in favor of offenses in the NFL.

But, not so fast. I’m here to tell you to fade Vegas this season. Someone has to lose games in that hellscape of an AFC West. And the Raiders look like the weakest team in the division.

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Raiders’ Worrisome Regression Metrics

There’s an argument that the Raiders got unlucky with several off-the-field incidents last season. Also, Vegas acquired Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers this offseason to give his former college teammate — Derek Carr — a legitimate No. 1 WR.

But, Vegas got dumb-lucky to be in the playoffs last season. While the Raiders were an unlucky minus-9 in turnover differential and 24th in adjusted games lost to injury per Football Outsiders. Vegas was 7-2 in 1-score games with a 6.9-10.1 expected win-loss record based on point differential.

On top of that, the Raiders have epically whiffed in recent drafts, which catches up to teams. Unless you have MVP quarterbacks like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers to cover up holes in the roster. But, that’s not Carr. 

Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr and WR Davante Adams warm up prior to the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Canton, Ohio. (Getty Images)

More On Carr

No doubt Carr has been underrated in recent years. However, Carr is the 3rd-best QB in his own division and probably 4th now that Russell Wilson plays for the Denver Broncos. And wide receiver is the most overrated position in the NFL. I’m not a believer that Adams markedly improves the Raiders.

Ultimately, it’ll come down to Carr getting Adams the ball in winning time. But, Vegas’s offensive line is trash. If Carr doesn’t have time to deliver the ball then Adams’ impact could be minimal. Plus the Raiders are more than a wide receiver away from improving on their fluke playoff run in 2021.

Finally, on the “regression metrics” angle, the AFC West is the best division in football and Vegas has the 3rd-toughest schedule per Warren Sharp. Strength of schedule and records in 1-score games from the previous season are two of the most commonly used angles when projecting NFL team win totals.

New England Patriots Bill Belichick and Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels shake hands after their preseason game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Getty Images)

Josh McDaniels Is A Questionable Hire

First of all, one of the most overrated head coaching hires is offensive coordinators from teams with superstar quarterbacks.

How much did McDaniels help Brady really? I feel like it was more Brady helping McDaniels. McDaniels didn’t throw any TDs in New England. He didn’t orchestrate that 28-3 Super Bowl comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. That was TB12 doing GOAT things in F-It Mode.

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady runs with the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Getty Images)

Not Buying The McDaniels Hype

Furthermore, Boston sports fan Bill Simmons said on a recent podcast he was excited to see McDaniels head to Vegas. Say what you will about Simmons, he at least knows his shit about the Patriots. Perhaps annoyingly so but we can give Simmons credit on that front.

Also, has anyone from the Bill Belichick coaching tree ever been successful? McDaniels sucked in his two seasons as Denver’s head coach from 2009-10. He started 8-8 in 2009 but McDaniels was fired after Week 13 with a 3-9 record the next season.

Many think McDaniels brings much-needed stability to the Raiders’ sideline. While it’s true Vegas had a tough one last year between former WR Henry Ruggs III fatal DUI car crash and the Jon Gruden fiasco.

In the NFL’s toughest division, I’m not optimistic McDaniels finds immediate success. Look, I’m not saying the McDaniels hire can’t work for the Raiders. I’m just betting it won’t be successful in McDaniels’ first season in Vegas.

BET the UNDER LAS VEGAS RAIDERS 8.5 REGULAR-SEASON WINS (+110) at DraftKings Sportsbook.

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Written by Geoff Clark

Geoff Clark serves as OutKick’s sports betting guru. As a writer and host of OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark, he dives deep into the sports betting landscape and welcomes an array of sports betting personalities on his show to handicap America’s biggest sporting events.

Previously, Clark was a writer/podcaster for USA TODAY's Sportsbook Wire website, handicapping all the major sports tentpoles with a major focus on the NFL, NBA and MLB.

Clark graduated from St. John University.

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