If you go on to various sites you can find the Raiders finishing anywhere from 1st to worst in the AFC west. Most years the main flow of media says the Raiders will suck with a few delusional fans saying Raiders will make a run. Lately the Raiders have been an average team that can go anywhere from 11-6 to 7-10 based on a few blocks and a few bounces going one way or another. This year though there are actually people that usually don't, saying Raiders will win the AFC West.
Others will say the Denver Broncos will win:
James Jones lost his mind and picked the Dolts.
If you want to know what Vegas thinks
Raiders over under 8.5
Cousin Kissers over under 10.5
Dolts over under 10.5
Donkey Delusionals Over under 10.5
This means the flow of betters are generally betting against the Raiders else the over under would rise.
Why is this? Why would some say the Raiders could win while others are actually predicting they win about the same as they predicted last year?
For the other fan bases KC is the champ and the loss of the best take the top WR in the NFL apparently does not matter. After all Hill getting wide open all the time doesn't matter and it takes a special QB to hit a wide open WR I suppose and after all Reid is the best play caller in the league and the best speed WR in the league made absolutely no difference with that offense and after all they have some WR from Green Bay that is fast too. You just watch, fat guy and Mahomes will make this guy an all pro even though being with Rodgers and Adams did not do it for him before. Nothing to see here this team is stacked and ready to go.
For Denver they have a full suite of new coaches and a new QB. Even though with Las Vegas all this transition is a problem apparently with Denver it is not. Oh and Wilson being bad with Lockart and Metcalf last year was just a fluke. He is still the Wilson of old just slinging it away. He will be able to replicate all that and more with some guy and so and so. BTW those injuries only occur at sea level he will be just fine this year now that the unlimited is playing at 5000 feet.
Then there is the Chargers. Seeing Mack in powder blue was just horrific. The thing is Mack is becoming quite the injury machine as is Bosa as is their hall of fame someday safety. In fact this whole team reeks of injury. Too bad the Raiders have to play them early instead of waiting for the injuries to mount. But heck they have Justin Herbert, that dude is the man. He took this team on his back and overcame all that last year and led his team to the playoffs. Oh whoops.
The hype for the other teams is far beyond anything you can imagine for the Raiders and these guys are betting (Nevada thanks you!).
But back to the orginal question why would a guy like Eisen and several others go Raiders? Why is Vegas so bearish on Raiders?
The reason the league in general are bearish on the Raiders are two major factors:
1. The OL is virtually the same as last year ranked 28 and both Donkeys and LADs brought in pass rushers to exploit that right side. It is on CB to get the OL serviceable. Most the NFL and prognosticators are betting against this happening. Honestly, I get the concern. Most of the time you just don't go from horrible to serviceable after you had a whole year to improve but didn't. And please no Miller stories. Miller was playing hurt in 18. LW and Parker were perfectly healthy while stinking it up.
2. The Defense is all new and has completely changed scheme in every way possible. This opens up questions like will Crosby be good in this system? Will Jones hold up? Who is Bilial Nichols and is he a starting quality DT? Hankins again really? And that is just questions with the DL. We could go on. To be honest we have no idea how this defense will come out. It is a valid concern.
Here are my reasons the Raiders will outperform the 8.5 wins and if I get around to it I will bet Raiders over 8.5 and Raiders for playoffs and maybe even AFC West if odds are right.
1. Carr is moving back to an EP system. Last time Carr was in an EP system with a far inferior offensive coach, he was #3 in MVP voting having the likes of Crabtree and some guy that has "dropped" from my memory that I think plays for Cleveland lol. Now he has Adams, Renfrow and Waller to throw to. My reasons for optimism about this change are given here:
But what about the OL, you may ask. An interesting note is both Simpson and James improved as the season went on. Simpson by the end of the year was an above average starting guard. James also improved and Miller is solid. So that leaves the right side. Good is coming back and if LW can't hack it, the former NE Coaches will put JE in who was an average RT in NE in 2020. Most NFL wide guys somehow forget all that or can't figure that out. Another thing to think about is Simpson, Good, Parhnam, and JE all play quite well as gap run blockers or at least project to.
2. Yes the defense is new but a lot of the players have familiarity and success in it. Bilal Nichols has played in a very similar defense to what Graham runs so did Hankins and so did Jones. Crosby will spend 80% of his time and 90% of the passing downs in a 4/2/5 which is is already really good at. The FO has brought in man to man cover guys and Mullen and even Robertson are good at that so is Hobbs. The FO got some solid Abram insurance this year with Harmon and brought in LB depth that are all familiar with the system Graham runs. They have familiarity with scheme at every level of the defense! The CBs that are here now actually are good at this type of coverage scheme. Last year the defense was 26th in scoring allowed. It will not take much to equal or exceed that.
3. In addition, the FO brought in solid guys that can play ST along with positions in many cases. This solidifies the ST unit that already boasts one of the best place kickers and punter in the NFL.
So my prediction. A little too soon yet for me to go game by game, I like to do that at the 53 cut down, but here is something I will say. Schedule strength is based on last years performance and teams rise and fall and I think they at least equal what they did last year. If they figure out the OL and the defense gels they WILL WIN THE AFC WEST! Big if but actually possible. Because those two things are possible it is tempting to pick them. Because those two things are question marks it is also reasonable to pass them over and that is why the variation is there this year.