No baby. Success isn’t always linear or immediately guaranteed just because a team has a handful of Pro Bowl and All-Pro level players.
No team has shown how true this is more than 2022 Las Vegas Raiders. They have a quality quarterback, arguably the best wide receiver in the game, a forward rush most teams would kill for, and a running back capable of being a cowbell. They’re sitting at 2-4 because the NFL can be weird like that.
However, the Raiders Victory 38-20 against Houston Texans in week 7 showed what the ceiling for this team can be and what fans should expect as Las Vegas faces clubs that are rebuilding their rosters, and next month’s schedule is littered with such teams.
The Raiders themselves weren’t supposed to rebuild or start slow. Head Coach Josh McDaniels was brought in to make them win right away. Davante Adams was brought on to be a powerhouse for the Raiders’ offense. It took a while, but they finally put together a game that their fans have been waiting for.
Derek Carr averaged nearly 9 yards per attempt, Adams had 95 yards on eight catches while Josh Jacobs dominated on the ground with 164 yards and three touchdowns on just 20 carries. chandler jones and Maxx Crosby applied pressure throughout the afternoon and they ended up bludgeoning the Texans. That’s what this team’s vision was: elite talent that led Las Vegas to a playoff berth.
Even though the Raiders have a losing record, they haven’t played like a typical 2-4 team. They are one of two AFC West teams with a plus point differential, the Kansas City Chiefs being the other. Their four losses this season resulted in a total of 14 points and they had a multi-touchdown lead over the Chiefs a few weeks ago before suffering a loss of a point on Monday Night Football. They also suffered a bad overtime loss against the Arizona Cardinals in week 2 where they trailed by about 5 minutes in the first quarter until the final game of regulation.
The next task for the Raiders will be figuring out how to close games. This team has enough talent and quality players to beat teams like the Cardinals. It can be tough in a league with as much talent and depth as the NFL, but the unfortunate part of the Raiders’ current position in the standings means they have to understand this quickly.
The point differential and more advanced metrics of team quality suggest the Raiders are better than their 2-4 record. Then there’s the harsh reality of how the NFL measures who gets into the playoffs: actual record. As the season nears the halfway point, the Raiders are building a team with a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They are two games behind. Los Angeles Chargerswho just blow yourself up speak Seattle Seahawks at home, but they are a team that have their own range of star talent to recover from some bad early season defeats.
Chasing Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert is the exact scenario the Raiders wanted to avoid, but Sunday’s victory breathed new life into their season. The Raiders have a chance to rack up wins in the next month of football with games against the New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos to come, which they will need to win to make the playoffs in a competitive AFC. They dug themselves into a hole, but the win over the Texans shows they at least have the talent to make up for it.