There are still a few months before the NFL season starts, but that hasn’t stopped power rankings from coming out. The Las Vegas Raiders did a lot to bolster their offense and defense this offseason, but they still have doubters. Every team in the AFC West got better this offseason, so it’s hard to know who will have the best chance to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, there’s one prominent media figure who has come out and made clear he likes what the Raiders are doing.
Peter King recently released his power rankings for the 2020 and ranked the silver and black all the way up at number eight:
This is going to be a fun floor show in the new Allegiant Stadium, in the first year ever for an NFL franchise in Nevada. A shame, really, that crowds may not be able to flock to see this team due to the pandemic. What fun it could be, with the speedy Henry Ruggs III paired with returning Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow—and with twin third-round picks Lynn Bowden and Bryan Edwards fighting for receiver snaps too. Tight end Darren Waller is an emerging star and could get a few snaps stolen by in-the-twilight Jason Witten with a strange stop, at 38, on his late-career tour.
GM Mike Mayock paid so much attention to the offense because it was simply too inconsistent last year; the Raiders scored 24 points or less each week in the last six, going 1-5 down the stretch. That led to the Raiders kicking the tires on Tom Brady in March. Derek Carr knows, and doesn’t seem to care. I probably like the Raiders more than most because of the offensive improvement and because of four defensive additions: defensive end Carl Nassib, inside linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkowski, and cornerback Prince Amukamara (decent year in 2019 in Chicago, very good in 2018).
There’s a good chance that the significantly better AFC West will neuter the progress the Raiders, Chargers and Broncos have made, because they’ll all unmistakably improved. But this first edition of an NFL team in Vegas is a fascinating one.
King ranking the Raiders the eighth-best team in all of football is shocking, to say the least. ESPN has the team ranked at 22 and Bleacher Report has them at 23. King clearly believes in what Las Vegas is doing.
Raiders Ranked Ahead of 6 2019 Playoff Teams
To make the Raiders’ ranking even more surprising, King has them ahead of six teams that made the playoffs last season. The Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills are all ranked lower than the silver and black.
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Are the Raiders a Top-10 Team?
King is certainly a bigger fan of the Raiders than most, but he’s not wrong to think the team is going to make a leap this year. They brought in some really good defenders and playmakers this offseason. There almost no holes on their offense if Henry Ruggs lives up to the hype. Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller have already proven to be elite and the Raiders could have the best offensive line in the NFL if they stay relatively healthy.
The defense is still a concern as the secondary is very young. However, the team brought in a couple of really good linebackers in free agency and all the young guys on the defensive line should get better with another year of experience. Johnathan Abram will be returning after missing 15 games last season. It’s hard to imagine the Raiders going from losing records the last three seasons to being a top-10 team, but they have everything they need in order to have a breakout season.