One of the more pleasant surprises in the NFL this season has been the Las Vegas Raiders and their unexpected start to the season.
Many pundits, bettors, and analysts like myself; all picked the Raiders to finish dead last in the AFC West. In fact, some predictions had Las Vegas starting off the season going 0-4 and definitely not 3-1 as their current record stands.
Yet, despite the Raiders being tied atop the AFC West with the Chargers and Broncos, NFL betting sites still believe that this team will miss the Playoffs in 2021.
Let’s huddle up to examine this NFL prop bet of whether or not the Raiders will make the Playoffs this season.
NFL Betting Odds
Make the Playoffs (+110)
Miss the Playoffs (-130)
On the surface, this wager is pretty close to being even. However, online betting sites are still leaning towards the Raiders missing the postseason.
Whichever way you bet, there’s value with both options. So, if you are convinced with either option, now’s a good time to capitalize on the available betting value.
A Case for the Raiders Making the Playoffs
Let’s start with the obvious first, and that’s the fact that the Raiders are 3-1 to start the season. I don’t think even the diehard fans of the silver and black could’ve seen this coming.
On paper, Las Vegas had one of the toughest starts to the 2021 season in the league. They faced the Ravens, Steelers, Dolphins and Chargers. That’s three double digit winning teams from last year and a divisional rival.
And, what did the Raiders do?
They went out and beat the Ravens and Dolphins in dramatic fashion while stomping on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The team was a ½ away from being 4-0 on the year, but a poor first half against the Chargers on MNF in Week 4 cost them the game.
An Explosive Offense
A big reason why the Las Vegas Raiders are off to the hot start is due to their explosive offense. Currently, the Raiders are 5th in the NFL for total offense at 406.5 ypg.
Las Vegas is led by QB Derek Carr who’s leading the NFL in passing yards with 1,399 and also has 8 TDs to just 3 INTs.
The Raiders are also 9th in scoring on offense at 26 points per game. And, that number includes their paltry 14 points against the Chargers in Week 4.
Prior to that, the Raiders scored 33 against Baltimore, 26 against Pittsburgh and 31 against Miami.
An Improved Pass Defense
Although the current numbers aren’t elite, they’re still a vast improvement over what the Raiders were last year. In 2020, Las Vegas ranked:
25th in total yards (389.1ypg)
30th in points allowed (29.9 ppg)
26th against the pass (263.6 ypg).
29th in sacks having tallied just 21
Currently, the Raiders are:
19th in total yards (361.8 ypg)
20th in points allowed (25 ppg)
14th against the pass (229.5 ypg).
15th in sacks with nine
The Raiders pass defense, which was supposed to be a huge liability, has turned out to be their strength. If they can get their rush defense improved, the Raiders could be even better on this side of the ball.
A Case Against the Raiders Making the Playoffs
One of the biggest knocks against the Raiders making the Playoffs this year is their lack of postseason births this century.
Since 2000, the Raiders have made the Playoffs just four times. They started off the century with three straight postseason appearances and a Super Bowl loss in 2002.
It then took 14 years before the team would make the postseason again. However, since 2016, the Raiders haven’t even sniffed the postseason.
With just one trip to the postseason since 2002, it’s hard to believe that the Raiders have turned the corner.
A Lack of Rushing
Considering that the Raiders have been a run-first team since Jon Gruden returned, it’s a big surprise that Las Vegas is ranked 27th in the league in rushing at just 80.5 yards per game.
Part of this is due to star running back Josh Jacobs missing two games with injuries. Part of it also has to do with the fact that some of the teams they played against are really strong against the run like the Steelers and Ravens.
However, a big part of why they’re so bad in rushing right now is the offensive line that was overhauled in the offseason. Las Vegas needs to turn this around in order to be a more balanced offense and finish off teams late in the game. If they can’t, then Vegas will be in trouble.
Poor Rushing Defense
Not only are the Raiders lacking a ground game on offense, but they’re also lacking the ability to stop the run. Currently, Las Vegas 23rd in the NFL against the run as they allow 132.3 yards per game.
This is bad news for a team that will face many more running teams on the year like Dallas, Washington, Cleveland, Denver and the Colts.
Giving Up Too Many Sacks
Another major concern with the Raiders offense is the number of sacks that they’re allowing. Currently, the Raiders are 7th in the league with 12 sacks allowed. That’s an average of three sacks per game.
When you combine this with their inability to run the ball, the offensive line could end up being a liability over the rest of the season.
Remaining 2021 Schedule
The Raiders have some winnable games coming against teams like the Bears, Eagles, WFT, and Giants, which should improve their number of wins on the season.
However, they also have two games against the Chiefs, two against the Broncos, Dallas, Cincy, Colts, Browns and one more against the Chargers.
To close the season, the Raiders play the Chiefs, Browns, Broncos, Colts and Chargers. That stretch will decide if they make the Playoffs or not.
How Should We Bet the Raiders in 2021?
As exciting as it is to see the Raiders playing well, as their fanbase brings a lot of energy to the league, it’s best to jump on board Las Vegas missing the Playoffs in 2021.
The offensive line remains a concern as they give up too many sacks and aren’t able to run block. The run defense is inept this year and allows opposing offenses to control the clock along with tiring out the Raiders’ defense.
The remaining schedule could cut either way over the next six weeks, but the final five games is a brutal stretch. It’s hard to imagine the Raiders being able to win at least two games over that span.
Furthermore, there are going to be five teams fighting for the three Wild Card spots, which also works against the Raiders considering that some of these teams have an easier schedule.
Lastly, their lack of Playoff appearances this century also works against them. The Raiders don’t have the experience of making the postseason in their back pocket like other teams do. They still have to learn how to win as a team.
More than likely, the 2021 season will be a building block for next year when the Raiders could make a big step towards becoming a Playoff contender.
This year, take the excellent value of the Raiders missing the Playoffs at -130 odds.
Will the Raiders Miss the Playoffs? –Yes (-130)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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