The Raiders took a major step in 2019 over 2018. The team embraced youth and while that hurt them towards the end of the season, they did almost make the playoffs. This offseason, Las Vegas has added several talented veterans in free agency and some playmakers in the draft.
While it’s true that pretty much every team gets better in the offseason, the Raiders have a really good shot of getting back into the playoffs. Former head coach for the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions Steve Mariucci thinks Las Vegas has done enough to get a wild card berth.
“They have continuity in the coaching staff and systems, and they’re ready to go,” Mariucci said on NFL Network. “It’s going to be really exciting — that fan base is going to be crazy over there. It’s a fresh start for the Raiders and I expect that to have a pretty darn good season, and probably jump into that wild card spot.”
The Raiders were really close to getting the last wild card spot in the AFC last year and they’ve only gotten better. However, the AFC West is probably still out of reach.
Raiders Haven’t Passed Chiefs Yet
Unfortunately for the Raiders, they have to share a division with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. While Las Vegas has certainly improved, so have their arch-rivals. Mariucci thinks they still have work to do before they can unseat the Chiefs.
“I don’t think they’re going to leapfrog Kansas City because the Chiefs are good in that division, but I think the wild card [is realistic],” Mariucci said. “All the free agents, they got three guys from Dallas: Jeff Heath, Maliek Collins, and Jason Witten. They also got Cory Littleton from the Rams and Nelson Agholor from the [Philadelphia Eagles]. They got some guys and then speedball Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette. I think the Raiders are going to make a push for the playoffs next year.”
The Raiders have done a very good job of addressing some of their biggest needs this offseason. If Ruggs can live up to his draft status, the offense has almost no holes. However, cornerback is still an area of concern on defense. The team will be relying heavily on youngs guys to stop some pretty great wide receivers in their division.
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Chargers & Broncos Will Both Be Tougher in 2020
Two of the teams the Raiders will likely have to fend off for a wild card spot are within their division. The Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers should be much better in 2020. Philip Rivers spent a lot of years being one of the more prolific quarterbacks in the NFL, but he was a shell of his former self last season. It’s reasonable to believe that first-round pick Justin Herbert can at least put up similar numbers, if not better.
The Broncos also have a young quarterback, but they stacked their offense with weapons. Jerry Jeudy and Corland Sutton are going to form a strong wide receiver duo. Tight end Noah Fant should be better in his second year and they signed Melvin Gordon. The Broncos are not messing around on offense. The Raiders have gotten a lot better, but the road to the playoffs will not be easy.
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