Yes, it’s early and there’s lots of work for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock to do during the offseason but there is a strong case for the Raiders to make it into the playoffs next season.
It’s Super Bowl week and while the attention is mostly fixated on the happenings and the end of the 2019 season in Miami, it’s time to look ahead at the Las Vegas Raiders 2020 season and why they’ll make the playoffs.
After a disappointing end to the 2019 season, that saw the Raiders go 1-6 after a surprising 6-4 start, you might think the momentum was lost and that isn’t a good thing for a team wanting to take the next step.
Not so when you consider the 2019 version of the Silver and Black never had depth and was derailed early on due to their WR1 going berzerk and being cut, and a slew of other key injuries on both sides of the ball. It was smoke and mirrors yet real progress was made. With five draft picks in the Top 100 of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Raiders will get another influx of young talent. If Mayock and Gruden hit on 75% of their guys, the Raiders should fill some holes quickly. Supplementing the draft with key free-agent acquisitions, and utilizing their $55 million in cap space (before any moves) should make a jump possible.
But why will the Raiders make the playoffs in 2020?
Here are our three reasons why the Las Vegas Raiders make the playoffs in the first season in Nevada:
After playing an absolutely brutal schedule in 2019, the Raiders get a huge break in their first year in Las Vegas. Last season, the team went 49 days without a home game which included games on the East Coast and in London. They did surprisingly well finishing the first 10 games (the most difficult part of their schedule) at 6-4 before falling apart when it got easier.
In 2020, the Raiders opponents weaken meaning Las Vegas’ schedule will be the league’s 21-ist toughest – stocked with teams under .500 overall. Las Vegas’ 2020 opponents finished 2019 with a 127-129 record (.496).
|2020 Raiders Opponents|
|at Atlanta Falcons|
|at Carolina Panthers|
|at Denver Broncos|
|at Kansas City Chiefs|
|at Los Angeles Chargers|
|at New England Patriots|
|at New York Jets|
|Kansas City Chiefs|
|Los Angeles Chargers|
|New Orleans Saints|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|at Cleveland Browns|
Although many in the Bay Area have worried about the Raiders home-field advantage in the new Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas (and fans from LA and Oakland) will show out and the team will have benefit from the buzz of year one in Sin City.
While there are tough games on the schedule, improved Raiders defense, the addition of tools on offense, and an increasingly confident Derek Carr at quarterback will mean a 9-7 or 10-6 season putting the Raiders right there for a Wild Card berth in the AFC.