Las Vegas is becoming a city of champions when it comes to professional sports. Could the NFL's Raiders be next?
The city's franchises in the NHL and WNBA have won the most-recent titles in each of those leagues.
The Las Vegas Golden Knights claimed their first NHL Championship just over two weeks ago. It was just their sixth season in the league as an expansion team. The franchise has never had a losing season.
The Aces won the WNBA Championship last September and are off to a sizzling 13-1 start in 2023. They were the first major professional franchise to set up shop in the city when they relocated from San Antonio after the 2017 season. They have on-track for a fifth straight winning season and a possible repeat as league champs.
The Raiders moved from Oakland after the 2019 season. Their history in Las Vegas hasn't been quite as spectacular as they've only had a single playoff game in three seasons.
The oddsmakers aren't exactly loving Las Vegas for 2023. The Raiders are currently a 3-1/2-point season-opening underdog at Denver. They easily have the worst odds at winning the AFC West with +1200 odds, and the over/under on wins is 6-1/2.
Las Vegas has the 3rd-worst odds in the AFC at making the playoffs.
On the downside, the Raiders may have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL.
On the negative side, the year begins and ends with consecutive road games. But that also means they get 8 out of 12 games at home from September 24 through December 14, plus a bye week.
Additionally, Las Vegas gets 5 prime time games and 4 of those are at home.
The Raiders will play each of the NFC Central teams - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota - and the jury is out on how strong any of them will be. The Green Bay game is at home on Monday Night Football on October 9. Ironically, they also get former Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers at home on November 12 when the Jets show up for Sunday Night Football.
Las Vegas will face each of the AFC teams with road trips to Buffalo and Miami, and a home date with New England in addition to the aforementioned clash with the Jets.
Sharp Football Analysis says this is the No. 2-toughest schedule out of 32 teams. In our opinion, it doesn't look overly imposing.
(Bold at home, all times eastern and subject to change)
9/10 at Denver, 4:25
9/17 at Buffalo, 1:00
9/24 Pittsburgh, 8:20 (Sunday Night Football)
10/1 at LA Chargers, 4:05
10/9 Green Bay, 8:15 (Monday Night Football)
10/15 New England, 4:05
10/22 at Chicago, 1:00
10/30 at Detroit, 8:15 (Monday Night Football)
11/5 NY Giants, 4:25
11/12 NY Jets, 8:20 (Sunday Night Football)
11/19 at Miami, 1:00
11/26 Kansas City, 4:25
12/10 Minnesota, 4:05
12/14 LA Chargers, 8:15 (Thursday Night Football)
12/25 at Kansas City,1 :00
12/31 at Indianapolis, 1:00
Date TBD Denver, Time TBD
Head coach Josh McDaniels has been loading on players who are familiar to him, and vice-versa.
At the top of the chart is the new starting QB. In May, the Raiders signed Jimmy Garropolo, the former San Francisco/New England QB and unrestricted free agent. We like Jimmy G, but more importantly, he is 44-19 as a starter.
His predecessor, Derek Carr spent 9 seasons in a Raider uniform and was just 63-79.
Coming off a disappointing 6-11 season in 2022, McDaniels unceremoniously benched Carr for the final two games and then terminated his contract to cut roughly $40 million from the books. Despite throwing for 35,322 yards and 217 touchdowns with 99 INT's, 6 of those 9 seasons were losing campaigns. The Raiders made the playoffs twice (2016, 2021), but Carr only played in the 2021 postseason game at Cincinnati. He missed the 2016 playoffs after fracturing his fibula in week 16 when Oakland went 12-4.
Jimmy G will have returning star wide receiver Devante Adams, in addition to incoming free agent Jakobi Meyers from New England. The Raiders also bring in DeAndre Carter from the Chargers.
The Raiders seemingly shored up a defensive backfield that ranked 28th last year with the additions of Duke Shelly from Minnesota, Brando Facyson from Indianapolis, Marcus Epps from Philadelphia, David Long Jr. from the Rams, and Jaquan Johnson from Buffalo. There has to be some concern, however, as to how quickly all the new guys will gel into a unit.
Edge rusher Tyree Wilson from Texas Tech was added in the draft, as was tight end Michael Mayer from Notre Dame.
The best constant on the team would be the return of 2022 NFL-leading running back Josh Jacobs, assuming he drops his holdout and signs the franchise tag offer to play for $10.1 million in 2023. Jacobs ran for 1,653 yards last year. His 93 first downs were 24 more than the next-closest running back, Nick Chubb with Cleveland.