Time to move all in on the Raiders? | Connect FM | Local news radio

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(LAS VEGAS) – Four years ago, the poorest owner in the NFL committed more than $ 1.1 billion he did not have towards building a $ 1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas, at a time when NFL policies even prohibit team owners, staff, and players from appearing to have any connection to the game.

Three years ago, he lured the famous former franchise head coach out of the advertiser’s booth and sidelined him with a 10-year, $ 100 million contract. At the end of the following season, he hired the NFL Network’s top project analyst to lead his front office. Last season, his team played their home games in the all-new sparkling black Allegiant Stadium – but without any fans (or match income to pay off the resulting debt).

Mark Davis has staked everything – his team, his fortune and his father’s legacy – to make this season a success.

It didn’t seem to be paying off. Head coach Jon Gruden’s first three seasons in black (19-29, .396 winning percentage) were much worse than the three years under his predecessor, Jack Del Rio (25-23, .521). GM Mike Mayock’s transition from fake drafts to real drafts has been bumpy, with the NFL Network’s Gregg Rosenthal ranking him and Gruden as the worst front office in the league. Team president Marc Badain, who had spent his 30-year professional career with the organization, resigned a few days before training camp with little explanation. Mayock admitted prior to this season that his job likely hinged on the Raiders’ playoff participation, and FiveThirtyEight’s pre-season NFL predictions only gave them a 24% chance of doing so.

After two weeks, the Las Vegas Raiders (née Oakland, née Los Angeles, née Oakland) are 2-0, having eliminated the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers by a combined score of 59-44. Quarterback Derek Carr leads the NFL in passing yards with 817 yards, nearly 130 yards ahead of second place. The team is # 2 in the NFL in the Predictive Metrics of Sports-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System.

Is this a mirage in the desert, or are the Raiders real?

Right off the bat, there’s room for skepticism: the simple scoring system, as predictive as it is, virtually only takes into account a team’s opponents and the average point differential. So early in the season, it’s not even as predictive as the point spread or the point differential alone.

On the court, the Raiders are bragging about the No.7 scoring offense and No.1 yardage offense so far this year. They are seventh in yards per play and tied for fifth in scoring rate per practice. While they can’t run the ball for the beans, Gruden’s playing appeal is garnering praise – and Carr is playing the best football of his life. The triple Pro Bowler has the fourth highest quarterback passing score on Pro Football Focus, and he ranks fourth in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR). (Carr injured his ankle in last week’s win over the Steelers, and is currently questionable for Week 3.)

Defensively, the Raiders are closer to the middle of the pack. They are tied for 10th in defense and 16th in yards allowed. They are 16th in Football Outsiders’ Defense Adjusted Defensive Rating (DVOA). But PFF adores defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s unit strip, ranking them the sixth best defense overall, with the league’s No.1 pass rush.

This dominance of precipitation also appears in the statistics column. Although they blitz less often than any other team, the Raiders rank 15th in pressure ratings, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group. Mayock’s very first draft pick – defensive end Clelin Ferrell, ranked No.4 overall in 2019 – might never be productive. But edge rusher Mayock took 102 picks later, Maxx Crosby, became a stud: two sacks, eight tackles, three tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits just this season, not to mention the highest PFF overall score. high of all defenders in the League. Just behind Crosby, in ninth place, is Yannick Ngakoue, headliner of the 2021 free agent class.

The Raiders have some serious flaws. Their offensive line ranks last in PFF’s run blocking ratings and 16th in pass protection. They are also the worst tackling team in the league, according to PFF. That’s part of why they’re just a decent defense, despite dominating players up front. All in all, the Raiders are still outside the top 10 in most predictive measures of team strength.

But look how much those two opening wins impressed the models:

Vegas has made huge strides in models

Playoff standings and odds in five models for the Las Vegas Raiders before week 1 and before week 3 of the 2021 season

RANKINGS

Playoff SERIES ODDS

METRIC

W1

W3

DIFF.

W1

W3

DIFF.

Football Outsiders DVOA

21

19

+2

31.5%

49.5%

+18.0

ESPN REIT

25

19

+6

17.0

50.4

+33.4

PFF power ratings

21

12

+9

49.0

59.0

+10.0

Jeff Sagarin

23

13

+10

FiveThirtyEight Elo

24

13

+11

24.0

54.0

+30.0

Heading into Week 1, the Raiders were no better than 21st in any of these five predictive measures of team strength. After week 2, they’re 12th in FiveThirtyEight’s Elo Screenings and PFF’s Power Rankings and at least among teens everywhere else.

Jeff Sagarin’s model doesn’t predict playoff odds, but the other four metrics do, and after playing two games, the Raiders’ odds of qualifying for the playoffs have dropped from 17-49% to 50- 60%. According to Rotowire, the Raiders’ betting odds of qualifying for the playoffs are now +100, with an implied probability of 47.8%. Even though those odds are much better than the pre-season high of +340, every predictive model we’ve looked at believes the Raiders are more “real” than the betting markets.

Is this really a good time to get on the Raiders train? Maybe not. But many NFL watchers were skeptical of Davis – who, to say the least, zigzags where most NFL owners tend to zag – and his ability to have a new stadium built without the involvement of a other team. Or grab attention in Las Vegas packed with attractions. Or bring Gruden back into the fold. Or build a list without the help of longtime Raiders executives like Badain, former GM Reggie McKenzie, or former CEO Amy Trask.

Still, Vegas is football’s hottest ticket, Gruden is lurking on the sidelines and the Raiders have a better-than-equal chance of making their third playoff trip since Gruden left 20 years ago.

Davis bet it all on (the money and) the black, and he’s going to let it go.

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