This could be the hot-seat year for Jon Gruden, as he enters the season 11-21 in his second stint with the Raiders, who are playing their first season in Las Vegas. QB Derek Carr is leading the offense once again, as the 2014 second-round draft pick is hoping for the second winning season of his NFL career. His record of 39-55 heading into 2020 does not instill confidence in Raiders fans, but neither does backup QB Marcus Mariota’s 29-32 record in his NFL career.
There was worry heading into Week 1, as first-round draft pick CB Damon Arnette suffered a thumb injury, but he played through it and started the game. Arnette played 72 percent of defensive snaps and made five tackles to go along with a defended pass in the Raiders’ 34-30 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
The back-and-forth first half included touchdowns by RB Josh Jacobs and new Raiders WR Nelson Agholor. Then, Jacobs had a tremendous second half, as he added two more touchdowns, including the game-winning one with 4:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. While Panthers kicker Joey Slye missed an extra point, Daniel Carlson was perfect on his six kicks for the Raiders: two made field goals, and four made extra points. The Las Vegas edition of the Raiders impressively began the season. They will host the New Orleans Saints for Las Vegas’s first home game for the franchise in Week 2.
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2020 Raiders Draft Picks
Henry Ruggs III, WR (Alabama)
Damon Arnette, CB (Ohio State)
Lynn Bowden, WR (Kentucky)
Bryan Edwards, WR (South Carolina)
Tanner Muse, S (Clemson)
John Simpson, OG (Clemson)
Amik Robertson, CB (Louisiana Tech)
Notable Other New Faces for the Raiders
Marcus Mariota, QB
Devontae Booker, RB
Theo Riddick, RB (practice squad)
Nelson Agholor, WR
Jason Witten, TE
Nick O’Leary, TE
Sam Young, OT
Maliek Collins, DT
Carl Nassib, DE
Nick Kwiatkoski, LB
Raekwon McMillan, LB
Cory Littleton, LB
Jeff Heath, S
Notable Raiders in New Places
Mike Glennon, QB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Lynn Bowden Jr., WR – Miami Dolphins
David Sharpe, OT – Washington Football Team
P.J. Hall, DE – Houston Texans
Dion Jordan, DE – San Francisco 49ers
Josh Mauro, DE – Jacksonville Jaguars
Will Compton, LB – Tennessee Titans
Daryl Worley, CB – Dallas Cowboys
Notable Raiders on the Injury Report
Marcus Mariota, QB – placed on injured reserve with a pectoral injury; expected to return for Week 4
Henry Ruggs III, WR – questionable for Week 2 with a knee injury
Tyrell Williams, WR – placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury; out for the 2020 season
Trent Brown, OT – doubtful for Week 2 with a calf injury
Sam Young, OT – doubtful for Week 2 with a groin injury
John Simpson, OG – questionable for Week 2 with a shoulder injury
Nick Kwiatkoski, LB – doubtful for Week 2 with a pectoral injury
Tanner Muse, LB – placed on injured reserve with a toe injury; expected to return for Week 4
Raiders Who Have Opted Out of 2020 NFL Season
Ukeme Eligwe, LB
D.J. Killings, DB
Jeremiah Valoaga, DE
Raiders Offense Predictions
Can Derek Carr become a Pro Bowl quarterback again? He made three Pro Bowls from 2015 to 2017, and his top two touchdown seasons came in 2015 (32 passing touchdowns) and 2016 (28). Carr had an NFL-best four game-winning drives in 2015 as well. In 2017, he had his third-highest touchdown total, but he only threw for 22 touchdowns that year. Since then, he has only thrown for 19 touchdowns in 2018 and 21 touchdowns in 2019.
In comparison to his career-best 2015 season, the touchdown totals have not been as high recently. However, most may not have noticed that he had his career-best quarterback rating (100.8) last year. Carr completed a career-high 70.4 percent of his passes and set a new career-high for passing yards in a season (4,054). He also had just eight interceptions, his lowest total since his career-low six in 2016. The most important statistic about the 2019 Raiders was that they had the second-most points averaged per drive in the NFL last season. If Carr can continue his 2019 performance into 2020 and find Henry Ruggs III to add to the touchdown total, Carr could not only be seeing a Pro Bowl nod, but he could bring the Raiders to the playoffs.
Raiders Running Backs: Can Josh Jacobs Be in the Conversation for the Offensive Player of the Year?
After a solid rookie season, Josh Jacobs is ready to improve for his second year. Jacobs did almost everything on the ground last year for the Raiders, as he ran for 1,150 yards in just 13 games. However, he had only seven touchdowns. Then, in Week 1 of the 2020 season, he ran three times into the end zone. He also ran for 93 yards and caught four balls for 46 receiving yards. Jacobs is now almost halfway to his 2019 touchdown total, and the sky could be the limit for the 22-year-old running back who is +6600 to win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award.
The Raiders signed former Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker to back up Jacobs this year. Booker ran four times for 29 yards and caught three passes for 23 yards in Week 1. Booker can be a part of this potentially electrifying Raiders offense, and the 28-year-old running back is very rested after receiving just eight touches last year. He may also be able to get revenge against his former team later in the season.
Raiders Wide Receivers: Will Henry Ruggs III Emerge as the Team’s Leading Wide Receiver in 2020?
Hunter Renfrow, Nelson Agholor, and rookies Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards seem to be ready to be a capable receiving group for the Raiders this season. While Carr may rely on his running backs and tight ends at times, these young receivers should contribute throughout the season. Agholor scored the lone receiving touchdown in Week 1, and it was his only catch of the game. Meanwhile, Ruggs received the most targets among wide receivers (five) and turned those into three receptions for a team-high 55 yards. There is room to improve for the receivers, but Week 1 was a step in the right direction.
Raiders Tight Ends: Will Darren Waller Make His First Career Pro Bowl?
The Raiders brought in 11-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, but Darren Waller will remain the main tight end. Waller was snubbed from the Pro Bowl last year. Waller caught 90 passes for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns in 2019. In 2020, Oakland will hope to improve his number of touchdowns. In Week 1, Waller did not get into the end zone, but he led the team with eight targets and six receptions, as he produced 45 receiving yards.
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Raiders Defense Predictions
In 2019, the Raiders ranked 24th in points allowed on defense, precisely the same ranking as their offense. Neither are statistics that should be boasted about, but the offense outperformed the defense by a large amount when looking at average performance per drive. It is not surprising that the Raiders defense allowed 30 points to the Panthers in Week 1, as they allowed the second-most points in the league per drive last year.
The Raiders sacked Teddy Bridgewater just once in the first game of the season. CB Trayvon Mullen, CB Damon Arnette, DE Clelin Ferrell, and CB Lamarcus Joyner defended passes in the victory. Second-year S Johnathan Abram amassed a team-high 13 tackles, one of which was a tackle for loss.
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Raiders Special Teams Predictions
Carlson enters his third NFL season and his second full season with the Raiders. Carlson made just 19 of his 26 field goal attempts last year. He did make 34 of his 36 extra-point attempts, though. The 25-year-old Carlson attended Auburn University, where he made all 198 of his extra-point attempts and had an 80.7 career field goal percentage. He led the SEC in field goal percentage (85.2) in 2015 and led the conference in field goals made in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
The fifth-round selection in the 2018 draft kicked in just two games for the Minnesota Vikings, who drafted him. After Carlson missed all three of his field-goal attempts in a Week 2 tie against the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings released him. Just over a month later, the Raiders signed Carlson, and he went on to make 16 of his 17 field goal attempts that season. He will hope to have more of the 2018 magic in 2020.
Raiders Head Coach Predictions
Super Bowl champion head coach John Gruden had an exciting transition from Oakland to Tampa Bay early in his career. He led the Raiders to four consecutive seasons of at least eight wins from 1998 to 2001, and the final two years had double-digit victories. However, he then joined the Buccaneers coaching staff as the head coach in 2002. That season, he defeated those same Raiders in the Super Bowl in his first year away from Oakland.
Gruden finished his seven-year tenure with Tampa Bay in 2008 with a 57-55 regular-season record. He did not win a playoff game since winning the Super Bowl. After a decade in the Monday Night Football booth, he is coaching the Raiders again, and his career record with Oakland was 49-47 heading into 2020. His team may be very entertaining this year, and with them being in Las Vegas, that just makes it more exciting to watch the Raiders.
Raiders Predictions for Week 2
The Saints opened as a five-point favorite against the Raiders in the first NFL game at Allegiant Stadium. QB Drew Brees, RB Alvin Kamara, and company will not be an easy matchup for Las Vegas’s defense, but WR Michael Thomas is out for the Monday Night Football game. The line moved up a half-point or a full point depending on the sportsbook, as the Saints seem to have too much firepower on offense. Also, the Saints defense may be able to take advantage of the Las Vegas offensive line if right tackle Trent Brown misses the game. Week 2 is essential, as the Raiders will be on short rest for their Week 3 contest against Cam Newton and the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts. If Carr and Jacobs can duplicate their Week 1 offensive performance, the Raiders may have a chance in the second game of the season.
Raiders Predictions for 2020 Season
The Raiders’ over/under for the 2020 season is 7.5 wins, which means that bookmakers think there will be a slight improvement for the team in its first season in Las Vegas. The Raiders’ +5000 Super Bowl futures bet does not have much value since it is unlikely that Las Vegas will be making the 2020 postseason. The Raiders could try to improve the defense with a trade or two during the season, but that defense is still feeling the loss of LB Khalil Mack, who was traded two years ago.
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