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In just 48 short hours, we will know for sure the schedule that the Raiders have in front of them for 2020. Well, that is, if COVID-19 doesn’t ruin it all. With the draft complete and the schedule on tap, it’s time to make some fearless predictions about the upcoming 2020 Vegas Raiders Season.
Lets start with the one that we’ll be able to brag about soonest… The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open their season in Las Vegas on Sunday Night Football. We know the NFL will want Brady & Gronk in prime time and the Raiders shiny new stadium in Fabulous Las Vegas is going to be too much for the schedule makers to pass up. The Colts and the Philip River rivalry would in a normal year be the nod here, but we expect that one to play out in Prime Time, just not on opening weekend.
Next, on to the Raiders record. It’s slightly too early to go game by game with the projections, but I see a 11-5 record and a playoff appearance. A higher power offense, move to Vegas, additional year in the system, more complete defense, & a fresh new start will bring some of that Vegas luck to the Raiders. As they say, in Vegas, the house never loses and Allegiant Stadium is now officially the house.
My most crazy prediction? The 2020 NFL season will play out as expected, besides pre-season games being “re-imagined” without fans. This could be more of a heart pick than a brain pick, but hearing that the MLB, NBA, and NHL are holding out hope for a season and news of potential vaccines ready in September, I’m putting my money on the long-shot. And no, the hefty PSL license and season ticket cost had absolutely nothing to do with this pick.
As for player predictions, don’t call me a homer, but I think Derek Carr will be a pro-bowl quarterback and Josh Jacobs will lead the league in rushing. The young wide receivers will have some struggles overall, but Henry Ruggs will be a dark horse candidate for offensive rookie of the year with his 8 touchdowns, but will ultimately be eclipsed because of lower than expected total yards.
I think the defensive line takes the next step and continues growing into one of the top units. This is helped by a much more talented (if a bit inconsistent) cornerback crew. I also expect the talk of Damon Arnette being a stretch to die down quickly as he becomes a solid starter in his rookie year.
This may not be a dominating defense, but if they can stay in the middle third of defensive performances, the Raiders can make the leap to playoff maker versus playoff outsider. With a 7th playoff spot added in 2020, I fully expect a playoff birth.
What I am not yet comfortable predicting is a deep playoff run. The AFC has some cosmic changes over the past few years, especially with Tom Brady leaving a gaping hole at the top of the AFC, but the Raiders are likely still another year away from challenging the AFC elite.
To circle back, for much of Raider Nation, this is the year that the Raiders offense must put it together or the expectation would be sweeping changes. I fully expect Derek Carr to turn in the best season of his career. I expect over 4,200 yards passing and 30+ touchdowns with more offensive weapons.
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I also expect Raider Nation to cry foul on every check down, but overall come around as Henry Ruggs III, Lynn Bowden Jr, and Bryan Edwards bring a new dimension to the offense. Gruden will have offensive weapons unlike he’s had at any time in his latest go-around with the Raiders, so I expect a more dynamic offense in 2020.
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