The Las Vegas Raiders get a second chance at a first impression in 2021 after watching the pandemic dull the excitement of their first season in Sin City. With fans in the stands, you can be sure the bulk of those butts are betting on games, so get ready for some random roars when a particular prop hits.
Cirque du Soleil isn’t the only high-flying show in town, with Vegas possessing one of the top passing games in the NFL. But can the defense do enough for Raiders Nation to cash in?
Here’s our 2021 Las Vegas NFL betting preview.
Las Vegas Raiders futures odds
|To Win Conference||+3,000|
|To Win Division||+1,600|
|To Make Playoffs||Yes +330/No -400|
|Season Win Total O/U||7.5 (Under -130)|
Best futures bet: Over 7.5 wins (+110)
Scouring the schedule, you can squeeze eight wins out of the Raiders, who finished 8-8 SU in a COVID-stricken 16-game 2020 season. While they play back-to-back home games just once (Week 10 and Week 11) they only travel to the East Coast for 1 p.m. ET starts twice (Steelers and Giants) and have just two other 1 p.m. kickoffs (Kansas City and Indianapolis) on the slate.
With the Chargers in a major coaching transition and the Broncos’ QB questions stacking up, the window is open for Jon Gruden’s group to slide up in the AFC West. The Raiders picked up a win in Arrowhead and lost to the Chiefs by four points at home last year, proving they can trade punches with the two-time conference champs. “Vegas” may not have faith in Vegas — but I do.
Las Vegas Raiders betting overview
What will win bets: Offense
Derek Carr takes a lot of shit, but just look at the numbers he and this offense put up. Carr finished 10th in passer rating in 2020 with 4,103 yards and 27 touchdown passes, to only nine interceptions, in a playbook that threw less than 56 percent of the time... but still scored over 27 points per game.
The receiving corps is loaded with talent, including second-year WR Henry Ruggs III, burner John Brown, Hunter Renfrow, and breakout TE Darren Waller. Complementing that air attack is running backs Josh Jacobs and underrated pickup Kenyan Drake. The offensive line is a big project after a mass exile of starters but this blocking unit played through the plague last year, plugging in new bodies almost every week.
What will lose bets: Defense
Bringing in Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator is a good start, but Las Vegas has a long way to go with this stop unit. The Raiders ranked 28th in Defensive DVOA at Football Outsiders in 2020 and allowed nearly 30 points per game.
Bradley’s schemes protect against home run plays, but don’t cause much chaos up front and are going to take some time to meld. Gruden may feel like he has to protect this unit by grinding out the ground game and dominating possession, which takes touches away from the Raiders’ real strength (passing). It’s a vicious cycle.
Las Vegas Raiders game-by-game odds
Bookies aren’t buying into the Silver and Black in 2021, with Las Vegas a point spread favorite in only six of 17 games this year, with a pick’em in place for Week 3 versus Miami. The Raiders were handed the seventh toughest schedule, according to SOS, and close out the year with five foes all with win total projections of nine games or more (three of those matchups coming on the road).
Home-field advantage is always a tough nut to quantify (is it really worth three points to the spread?) and may not exist in Vegas, with opposing fans more than happy to travel to Sin City for some fun and football. Will the “Vegas flu” balance this out? We’ve seen road teams struggle against the NHL’s Golden Knights at times, possibly succumbing to the delectable distractions of Vegas.
|4||@ L.A. Chargers||+4||49.5|
|9||@ N.Y. Giants||+1.5||47.5|
|10||vs Kansas City||+7.5||53.5|
|14||@ Kansas City||+10.5||53|
|18||vs L.A. Chargers||-1.5||48.5|
Early season forecast
A retooled offensive line and a new defensive coordinator will be tested hard in the opening games of 2021, with Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Miami on deck: three teams with solid defenses and capable offensive attacks.
The Death Star will be rocking for a Monday Night Football opener in Week 1, giving the Raiders the Vegas debut they deserve. This line opened Raiders +6.5 but has trimmed considerably since going up in the spring, now sitting at +4. Las Vegas was a solid bet when getting four or more points in 2020, finishing 3-1 ATS in those contests.
The AFC North tour continues when Vegas crosses the country to play the Steelers in Week 2 for a 1 p.m. ET start. Those early kickoffs were a thorn in the side of this franchise when it was in Oakland, going 1-7 ATS in 1 p.m. starts between 2017 and 2019. However, last year the Vegas Raiders were 3-3 ATS in those situations and are currently catching +5.5 in Pittsburgh. Depending on how Week 1 rolls out, this line could climb to +6 or higher, so wait it out if you like the visitor.
Miami makes its way West in this battle of the two best party cities in the U.S. (sorry Nashville). The Dolphins edged the Raiders 26-25 with a last-second field goal in Week 16 of last year, but Vegas covered as a 2-point home dog. The 46.5-point total is tied as the lowest Over/Under on the 2021 board for Las Vegas, which didn’t face a number this low in 2020. However, the Oakland Raiders went 15-11-1 O/U against sub-47 totals between 2014 and 2019 (since Carr was QB1).
Week 11 @ N.Y. Giants +1.5
We’ve already mentioned the franchise’s follies when it comes to 1 p.m. ET kickoffs (4-10 ATS since 2017) and the Raiders face another early cross-country kickoff in Week 11, traveling to the Meadowlands in November (pretty much the exact opposite of Las Vegas).
This game comes on the heels of a bye week, which isn’t great for Gruden who is 0-3 ATS following a bye in his second go-around with the Raiders. Piling on to this situational sandwich is a massive lookahead spot with rivals Kansas City coming to town for a Sunday nighter in Week 12.
Las Vegas was the top Over bet in the NFL in 2020, posting a 12-3-1 O/U count thanks to a 10th-ranked scoring offense and piss-poor defense. Things will likely stay the same for the Raiders, as the makeup of the 2021 squad is similar.
That said, bookies are padding the numbers for Vegas’ totals. There are only two totals of sub-47 on the board and five of 50-plus, according to the current lookahead lines. The Silver and Black were 8-2-1 O/U against totals of 50 or more last season.
It may not be so cut and dry when capping the Raiders totals in 2021. The offense could stall because of the o-line shakeup and the defense under Bradley should improve (can’t get much worse), which could trickle down in varying Over/Under results.
Star power props: Derek Carr, QB
|Player prop||Odds to win|
|Passing Yards total||4,075.5 (Over -115)|
|Passing TD Total||25.5 (Under -130)|
Best prop: Under 4,075 yards passing (-115)
This prop total is calling for a slight decline in Carr’s production after he posted 4,103 yards passing in 2020. But playing the Under is by no means a knock on Carr, who has pretty much been at this number the past three seasons.
The reason I lean Under here is that the running game could see substantial work if the defense needs protection — and it will early on. With a two-headed beast of Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas can hold on to the football and minimize the exposure of the stop unit. Obviously, that takes the football out of Carr’s hands.
Trend to know
In their first year in Sin City, the Raiders went 5-0-1 Over/Under in games pegged as home underdogs, and since 2014 — when Carr came aboard — this franchise is 20-11-1 O/U when set as a home pup (64.5 percent Overs). Las Vegas is getting the points in two home games in 2021.
Raiders totals as home underdogs
- Week 1: vs. Ravens 51
- Week 10:vs. Kansas City 53.5
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