Calling all bettors! The last time the Las Vegas Raiders competed in a Super Bowl — or even won their division — Jerry Rice was “only” 40 years old. Now they’re undergoing yet another transformation in a long line of transformations, hoping to lock down the right combination of personnel to make another title run.
How dramatically might they improve in 2023? And more pressingly, how will free agency and the upcoming NFL draft impact their title hopes? The following betting odds are based on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Las Vegas Raiders Super Bowl 58 Odds and Futures
Last February’s early odds for Super Bowl 57 offered clues on what sportsbooks were thinking and how that wove into the thinking of the broader betting market.
For example, the Kansas City Chiefs were the favorite (+650 odds) to win this year’s Super Bowl, while the Buffalo Bills were No. 2. Not too shabby as far as year-long predictions go.
But the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers were Nos. 3 and 4, respectively — though, in fairness, Davante Adams’ status in Green Bay remained unclear at that point. The Tennessee Titans (No. 9) and Denver Broncos (No. 10) clearly underwhelmed. The Eagles weren’t even in the top third.
Naturally, Vegas wasn’t among the favorites or even middling options. Then they acquired all-world WR Davante Adams. In combination with Denver trading for Russell Wilson and the Chargers re-signing Mike Williams, the AFC West looked wide open.
Although the Chiefs were still favorites by the eve of Week 1, the Chargers and Broncos were only a few spots behind, while the Raiders were respectably tied at No. 15 with +3600 odds, ahead of other serious playoff contenders like the Browns, Titans, Dolphins, and Patriots.
These days, Vegas is tied for 17th with +4000 odds to win Super Bowl 58. As we assess if bettors should lean into these odds, let’s examine a few key takeaways from their 2022 campaign.
Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, and Other 2022 Season Takeaways
Imagine you have psychic powers. Or if you already have psychic powers, imagine you’re you. Except instead of complete or even partial powers, you can see only future No. 1 RB and No. 1 WR stats, as well as scores vs. impending AFC West champs. (Bear with me here.)
If you’re a Raiders fan, you might have been thrilled to foresee that in 2022, Josh Jacobs would lead the league with 1,653 rushing yards, as well as all non-QBs in total yards (2,053). Additionally, you might have been excited by Davante Adams’ sustained dominance, even at age 30, culminating in the most receiving scores (14) and third-most receiving yards (1,516).
And no doubt, you would have been encouraged knowing that, excluding a meaningless Week 18 matchup, the Raiders would lose to the Chiefs in Kansas City by only one point. Wow, this squad looks good.
Of course, they weren’t — at least not what many oddsmakers anticipated. In hindsight, the 2022 Raiders were doomed from the start. No matter how well Jacobs and Adams played, this was not a playoff-caliber team, much less a Super Bowl contender. They yielded the fourth-most passing yards, secured the third-fewest sacks, and picked off the fewest passes.
Their run defense was better, but still in the bottom half in terms of yards per carry and rushing scores. In fact, they were better on both marks in 2021.
And while we might justifiably blame some of their offensive struggles on Hunter Renfrow missing eight games and Darren Waller missing nine, from my perspective, Derek Carr was never going to elevate this offense beyond what we’ve seen in past seasons. At 31 years old, he is what he’s always been: a capable starting QB who operates more as a game manager when tied or leading, and who’s too mistake-prone when trailing.
Last season typified this team’s struggles with Carr at the helm. Driving to take the lead with three minutes to go against the Chargers in Week 1, he took two successive sacks to lose the game. Up 16 points in the final frame vs. Arizona, he went 2 of 5 for eight yards on two drives.
Arizona came back and won in overtime. Needing a two-point conversion to tie Tennessee with a minute remaining, he threw the ball too low to Darren Waller, and a lineman tipped it out of harm’s way.
And those were merely the Raiders’ first three games. Time and again, Carr struggled to convert. Quantitatively, few stats are more pointed in this regard than his red-zone performance, where he completed only 42.4% of his passes. Among QBs with at least 15 red-zone throws, Carr was No. 37 out of 40, ahead of only Mike White, Joe Flacco, and Deshaun Watson.
I bring up Carr because his departure shouldn’t overly concern bettors ahead of the 2023 season. Vegas might actually get an upgrade at the position, even if it doesn’t look that way at the time of the signing.
2023 Offseason Moves
A lot could change for this team in the offseason. I expect them to try to dramatically improve their defense, which is easier said than done, but entirely necessary.
And as long as they have a top-24 QB at the helm, they might become a fascinating underdog Super Bowl contender.
NFL Free Agency
Six days after writing this, the Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo. So . . . I guess they now have a top-24 QB. Their odds remain at +4000 (as of March 13), suggesting that the betting markets understood a departing Carr likely would be replaced with someone comparable. It will be interesting to see if Garoppolo is the unquestioned Week 1 starter, and if so, whether he operates in his customary “glorified game manager” role, or if he’s turned loose.
Then on March 14, the Raiders signed Jakobi Meyers, a fundamentally sound former undrafted free agent who gives this team a potential No. 2 WR alongside Adams. Of course, that assumes Vegas doesn’t trade Adams later this year.
Speaking of which, the Meyers signing makes sense if this team plans to thin out its corps. Free agent Mack Hollins is a comparable asset who could have been signed on the cheap. And Hunter Renfrow remains tied to this team for several more years after signing an extension last year that includes $21 million guaranteed.
In the coming weeks, we’ll update this section with other breaking news on key Raiders arrivals and departures through free agency and trades, how it impacts their Super Bowl odds, and how it might inform our decision to bet on them to somehow win it all.
In early May, we’ll update this section on key Raiders draft picks and UDFA signings, with an eye toward any instant-impact players who could help catapult them into modest Super Bowl consideration.