Over the year, the Las Vegas Raiders have become a hated rival to every team in the AFC West. There’s no love loss between the Raiders and any team they share a division with. Though Las Vegas has had the upper hand on the Los Angeles Chargers over the last two seasons, the rivalry is as strong as ever.
One player who caused the Raiders a lot of headaches from 2005 to 2007 was Shawne Merriman. In nine career games against the silver and black, he notched 8.5 sacks. He’s been out of the NFL since 2012 after his career was derailed by injuries. However, with the possible return of Tim Tebow nearing, the former Pro Bowler is feeling inspired. He specifically called out the Raiders when showing off in a video that he’s still in good shape.
In his career, Merriman had three multi-sack games against the Raiders. It’s easy to see why he’d target them but they’re a very different team now. Though they made some moves on the offensive line, it’s still a strong group that isn’t giving up many multi-sack games to players.
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Raiders Fans Pounce on Merriman
With the draft and free agency now in the past, Raiders fans don’t have a lot to do until training camp starts. Many of them took note of Merriman calling out the team and went after him.
Merriman is only 36-years-old and has been off for almost a decade. It’s not impossible to imagine that he could have a bit of juice left. That said, there’s no way he’d get four sacks through an entire season, let alone one game. Over his last five seasons in the NFL, he only got six sacks in total.
Are Raiders Really Worst Team in AFC West?
By all accounts, the Raiders had a decent offseason. They landed a stud pass rusher in Yannick Ngakoue, a good veteran cornerback in Casey Hayward and the draft’s top safety in Trevon Moehrig. The team did move on from Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown this offseason but it’s overstated how much those moves will affect the team. Denzelle Good will likely take over for Jackson. He’s not at the same level but the drop-off isn’t too steep. Brown hardly ever played and is getting replaced by first-round pick Alex Leatherwood. If he can stay healthy for 17 games, he’s almost certainly an upgrade over Brown.
The biggest concern is Andre James likely replacing Hudson. He was a Pro Bowl-level player and one of the top centers in the NFL. James has one start under his belt and has some massive shoes to fill. Other than center, there’s no reason to believe the offensive line won’t be just fine.
The Raiders went 8-8 last season and placed second in the AFC West. Despite the fact that they should be improved in 2021, many are already writing them off. In The Athletic’s NFL power rankings, they somehow ranked Las Vegas as the 26th best team in the NFL and worst in the AFC West. That’s an absurd spot to rank them. Unless the Denver Broncos trade for Aaron Rodgers, they won’t be better than the Raiders. The Chargers have some really good pieces but have an entirely new coaching staff. Also, Justin Herbert hasn’t played in front of an NFL crowd yet. It’s very premature to suggest the Raiders are the worst of the bunch.