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Las Vegas Raiders 2023 Season Preview Analysis, Odds & Best Bet for Win Totals 

NFL quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo Las Vegas Raiders
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo 10 of the Las Vegas Raiders throws during the teams training camp at the Las Vegas Raiders HeadquartersIntermountain Healthcare Performance Center on July 27 2023 Ethan MillerGetty ImagesAFP

NFL Pick: 2023 Las Vegas Raiders Over 6.5 Wins (+110) at BetRivers


The Las Vegas Raiders had the kind of season in 2022 that shows why Josh McDaniels is wanted for his offensive mind, but his overall coaching expertise is lacking. The Raiders had as many blown leads in the fourth quarter as they had wins, and that is alarming when you are talking about a 6-11 finish. 

The Raiders seemed to forget the games were 60 minutes (or longer) last season. But when things were going well, this looked like a playoff-caliber team. However, the lack of any playoff wins in decades led to the team moving on from Derek Carr at quarterback. 

McDaniels reunites with Jimmy Garoppolo from their brief time together in New England. It is a gamble for sure, but the Raiders are a team that could be in store for positive regression, making their over/under 6.5 wins pick a very tempting one at top online sportsbooks.  


Significant Modifications

The Raiders are making a big gamble at quarterback, but is it really an improvement or lateral movement? Also, the defense adds a piece for the future that may not be of much help in the present.  

From Carr to Garoppolo  

When Josh McDaniels took the head coaching job in Denver in 2009, he almost immediately moved young starting quarterback Jay Cutler to another team. This time, he gave Derek Carr 15 starts before effectively ending the Carr era when he benched the 9-year veteran and started Jarrett Stidham in the final 2 games. 

It is the right call to move on as Carr was never going to take the team any further than he has before. But is Garoppolo the right replacement? This can make for a fascinating case study on quarterback play and coaching impact. McDaniels had Garoppolo in New England for 3 years in 2014-16 when the Patriots drafted him as a possible successor to Brady. He only started 2 games in 2016 when Brady was suspended, and he was very effective at running the offense in that brief time. 

Staying Healthy

But injuries have always been an issue for Garoppolo, who turns 32 this season. Then he was traded to San Francisco where he learned under Kyle Shanahan’s helpful offensive system, and he took advantage of San Francisco’s unique talent to get great YAC numbers out of his receivers. He is unlikely to have that in Las Vegas. Last year, the Raiders were middle of the road with 5.0 YAC/completion, which ranked 17th according to Pro Football Reference.  

You can argue that Garoppolo is downgrading from his San Francisco situation in every way except maybe at No. 1 wide receiver with Adams, and the Raiders are not without talent. Obviously, Josh Jacobs is coming off a rushing title. The team brought in Jakobi Meyers from New England, providing a reliable target and better No. 2 option this year.  

Darren Waller was traded to the Giants, but the team signed Austin Hooper and drafted Michael Mayer in the 2nd round. With Waller’s recent injuries, that should at least make tight end a wash from a year ago. It would be more important for the offense to fix the Hunter Renfrow connection because it was astonishing to see that fail so badly last year given his past chemistry with Carr. 

Familiarity

But that could be an area where Garoppolo’s familiarity with McDaniels’ offensive style helps. Renfrow should be playing the Wes Welker/Julian Edelman role in the slot in this offense, which would complement the talents of Adams, who had a lot of success as a deep threat last year, very well. 

Consensus is usually poor on Garoppolo, but it does not seem possible that a quarterback can be 44-19 as a starter, complete 67.6% of his passes, average 8.3 yards per attempt, and not have some real talent to work within the right situation. 

Also, despite his flaws and being a scapegoat for the team’s 2022 season, Carr was surprisingly decent in close games throughout his career. Carr is 34-42 (.447) at game-winning drive opportunities, the 9th-best record among active starters. Even with all the blown leads last season, Carr still led 4 game-winning drives for the Raiders.  

This is not something that will necessarily be lost with Garoppolo. While his sample size is smaller, Garoppolo is 12-12 (.500) at game-winning drive opportunities, which ranks 2nd among active quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes (18-15, .545) is the only other active quarterback above a 47% win rate in that situation. 

Carr definitely wins on durability, but the Raiders brought in Brian Hoyer to make sure McDaniels has a veteran backup with experience in his system. 

Help on Defense 

The Raiders had a few options with the No. 7 pick in the draft, and they settled on defensive end Tyree Wilson, who was considered the 3rd-best defensive player by many draft experts this year. 

Wilson does not have to start this year, but he can learn from the duo of Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. However, for the defense to really improve, Jones needs to get back to his previous high level of play. Not only were Jones’ sacks down, but his 19 pressures were barely half of what he had in 2021 with Arizona (36).  

The back end of the defense still leaves a lot to be desired, but at least the corner play could be better. Duke Shelley comes over from Minnesota where he was one of the few bright spots in the secondary. Veteran Marcus Peters has always been a ball magnet, and the Raiders desperately need that after intercepting just 6 passes in 2022, tied for the fewest in the league.  


2023 Schedule Analysis

Typically, if a team finishes 6-11 with 6 blown fourth-quarter leads, we would be picking that team to improve its record the following year. Even if we docked the Raiders for the fluky New England win and only allowed them to hang onto the 2 blown leads where they were up multiple touchdowns late (Cardinals and Rams), that would still be enough for 7-10. 

Throw in the quarterback change to a player McDaniels may feel is more coachable (read: controllable), and some positive regression with defensive takeaways, and over 6.5 wins feels like a great pick. 

But what about the schedule? Obviously, the AFC West division is a tough division owned by the Chiefs, but the Raiders should be able to muster a couple of wins there. The Raiders can also atone for blowing games against the Steelers and Colts last year with rematches this season (Week 3 and Week 17 respectively), and Mike Tomlin’s Steelers have struggled going on the road to face the Raiders over the years. The Raiders also have a shot to win in Chicago (Week 7). 

Facing teams at home like the Giants (Week 9), Packers (Week 5), and Vikings (Week 14) are winnable games. We also know McDaniels takes games against Belichick and the Patriots extra seriously so that rematch takes place in Vegas in Week 6.

The Pick

There are enough wins here to get over 6.5 but probably not much more than that. There are too many AFC teams with better quarterback play and likely better defense too. McDaniels needs to work on his game management, but after last year, it could not possibly get worse. In fact, you should probably expect more Raiders games to be lopsided this year after playing in a league-high 15 close games (tied with Denver for the most). 

That may not mean more wins in close games, but fewer losses would be a welcome change. 

NFL Pick: 2023 Las Vegas Raiders Over 6.5 Wins (+110) at BetRivers


2022 Recap: Tales of Despair   

Picking your favorite blown lead by the Raiders in 2022 is a tough challenge. 

  • Was it allowing the Cardinals to score 16 straight points in the fourth quarter to force overtime where Hunter Renfrow fumbled for a game-ending touchdown? 
  • Was it blowing a 17-0 lead in Kansas City after Travis Kelce scored 4 touchdowns on just 25 receiving yards? 
  • How about blowing a 17-0 lead to a Jacksonville team that had one 17-point comeback in franchise history since 1995? 
  • How much does it sting to lose to Jeff Saturday, an interim coach with no prior coaching experience making his debut in Indianapolis, knowing he never won another game for the Colts? 
  • What can beat Baker Mayfield erasing a 16-3 4th-quarter deficit, including a 98-yard touchdown drive in the final 1:45, after he just joined the Rams 48 hours before the game? 
  • What about Kenny Pickett, a rookie for the hated Steelers, leading his only touchdown drive of the game in the final 3:00 to beat the Raiders 13-10? 
  • How funny would it have been if Jarrett Stidham beat San Francisco’s top-ranked defense in his first start? But the Raiders lost 37-34 in overtime.  

The only game in that list the Raiders did not lead in the fourth quarter was in Kansas City, a 30-29 loss that saw a pass just go off Davante Adams’ hands at midfield in the final minute. 

Shocking

The only shocking part of the season was that the Raiders were on the winning end of the New England game where an ill-advised lateral on the final snap of a tied game was thrown right to a defender for a game-ending touchdown. McDaniels getting that one over his mentor Bill Belichick was a rare triumph in 2022 for a team that seemed to master the art of the blown lead. 

The blown leads ruined impressive seasons for the best players on the team: 

  • Running back Josh Jacobs won the rushing title with 1,653 yards in by far his best season yet 
  • Wide receiver Davante Adams did what was expected of him and led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches 
  • Defensive end Maxx Crosby had his best season yet with 12.5 sacks 

Unfortunately, the rest of the team did not back them up. Carr had a mediocre season even for his unlofty standards. He only completed 60.8% of his passes, his lowest figure since his rookie year. His 2.8% interception rate was the highest of his career.  

Should Have

The Raiders were supposed to surround Adams with great receiving mates in slot receiver Hunter Renfrow and speedy tight end Darren Waller, but both players struggled with consistency (drops and fumbles) and injuries. It was so bad that Mack Hollins and Foster Moreau ended up being the No. 2 and No. 3 leading receivers for the season. 

On defense, Crosby and Chandler Jones were the only players with more than 2.0 sacks, but even Jones was a major disappointment in his first Vegas season with 4.5 sacks. He is usually one of the best at converting a high rate of his pressures into sacks, but it did not happen last year. His only real highlight was catching that lateral for the touchdown to beat New England, his former team.  

It was a highly watchable season with plenty of drama, but more often than not, the Raiders left their fans disappointed in the end.


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