By: Trent Pruitt
2018 Record: 4-12, 4th in AFC West
2018 Success: Keeping Turnovers Down
2018 Failure: Offensive Growing Pains
Offensive MVP: Josh Jacobs
Defensive MVP: Brandon Marshall
O/U Wins: 6 (over -110/under -110)
Record Prediction: 6-10 (Forced me, I’d take over)
It’s not a question of if, but how much will the offense improve?
I’m high on the Raiders moving forward. I think it will take another year before they can compete in one of the tougher divisions in the league but they are moving in the right direction. Parting with Khalil Mack will end up being a win-win for both the Raiders and the Bears. Going out and getting Antonio Brown was a great move to give Derek Carr an elite target on the outside.
Starting up front, the offensive line will bring back Tackles Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker, both of which were rookies in 2018. They both received significant playing time (16 starts and 12 starts) so their progression this season will be astronomical. That will set the table for Derek Carr, who threw for 4,049 yards and a 19/10 TD/INT ratio last year. Carr has shown he can play at high levels and I think he will take a step forward since they added Antonio Brown. There are a lot of young receivers on this roster so a few of those guys will have to step up as AB will draw a lot of double teams. The rookie runningback out of Alabama, Josh Jacobs will need to have a big year in order to not make this offense one-dimensional. I think it’s possible with the development on the O-Line and addition of LT, Trent Brown too.
The defense boasts several big names including Brandon Marshall at inside linebacker as well as the notorious Vontaze Burfict. Burfict is probably the dirtiest player in the league, right up there with Ndamukong Suh. They used two of their three first-round picks to improve the defensive side of the ball. Those guys are Clelin Ferrell (DE) and Johnathon Abram (S) out of Clemson and Mississippi State, respectively. It will be a decent unit but I wouldn’t say elite by any means. Their defense ranked 19th against the pass and 30th against the run in 2018 so that’s a pretty low bar to beat, should be do-able. They should be susceptible to the run game again as they didn’t make too much noise on adding a run-stopper.
Like I’ve said, all signs point towards an increase in wins from 2018. My prediction puts them right in line with the Over/Under set by Vegas so I would likely stay away from that one. If you forced my hand, I’d go with the over at 7-9. Their schedule has some “for sure” losses but they can probably steal a game or two to hit the over.