For years, the expectations in Oakland have been low — and the betting lines in Vegas have reflected it. While low expectations aren’t ideal, the good news is that (in theory) it’s easy to exceed them!
Unfortunately, the Raiders have experienced the worst of both worlds: low expectations and relative disappointment. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, the Raiders season win total over/under was set at 5, 5.5 and 5 respectively. It wasn’t until 2015 that Oakland out-performed expectations — recording win totals of 4, 3 and 7.
On a week-by-week basis, Oakland has been definitively average against the spread: exactly .500 in both 2014 and 2015, and slightly below average (7-8-1) in 2013.
But 2016 has been a different story altogether.
Staring down the highest expectations the franchise has seen in over a decade, the over/under win total was set at 8.5 — a full three wins higher than it had been since 2012. And yet, here we are ten games into the season and the Raiders are already on the verge of making the ‘over’ a winner.
This success hasn’t even been limited to the season-long bets either — the Raiders are also an astonishing 8-2 against the spread this season (only the Cowboys have been better at 9-1).
Despite rising expectations and newfound respect around the league, it seems the oddsmakers just can’t pick a line high enough. In 10 weeks, the Raiders have been underdogs twice (Baltimore, Denver), favorites four times (Atlanta, Tennessee, San Diego, Houston) and a pick-em four times (New Orleans, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay). Obviously the spreads vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, but these are all courtesy of ESPN and Cantor Technology.
Ultimately, this speaks to the speed at which the Raiders are ascending. While many expected their best season since 2002, few expected them to enter the final third of the season as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. While expectations grew, the team’s success seems to be growing even quicker.
The only question left for Vegas to ask now is: can they keep it up?