Oakland Raiders Odds to Win the Super Bowl
by Alan Matthews - 6/5/2014
I'm sure the various sportsbooks will release the First NFL Coach to be Fired prop on the eve of the season, and if Oakland's Dennis Allen isn't the favorite, he shouldn't be any worse than No. 2. The Raiders have had back-to-back four-win seasons under Allen, who wasn't exactly a sexy choice when hired. It's not Allen's fault really as no team was in worse salary cap shape in terms of dead money a few years ago than Oakland. The Raiders are now clear of that that mess, but perhaps Allen is just a bridge coach to the next guy when Oakland might start to win again. The "Just Win Baby" Raiders haven't had a winning record since losing the Super Bowl to Tampa Bay in the 2002 season. No coach has made it through three full seasons since then.
Oakland actually was fairly competitive the first 10 games last year as it was 4-6, including solid wins over San Diego and Pittsburgh (also lousy teams Jacksonville and Houston). Then the wheels fell off as the Raiders ended the season on a six-game skid. The defense was wretched in that stretch, allowing at least 31 points four times, including 56 to Kansas City. The final four losses were all by double-digits. That nearly cost Allen his job, but he gets one more chance.
The Raiders' two primary quarterbacks last season were Terrelle Pryor, a good runner but not passer, and undrafted free agent Matt McGloin. Their two best receivers were Rod Streater and Denarius Moore. They wouldn't be No. 4 guys on the Broncos. Running back Darren McFadden, whom I thought was going to be a star in this league when he came out of Arkansas, once again couldn't stay healthy. So no surprise this offense was not very good, ranking 24th in points at 20.1 per game. McGloin, the receivers and McFadden are back but now the starting QB is Matt Schaub. All the Raiders had to give up to Houston for a guy who was pretty good as recently as 2012 was a sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft. That seems like great value because Schaub will be an upgrade at the position, even if it's just for next season.
The key for the coaching staff will be rebuilding Schaub's confidence after he kept throwing pick-sixes last season before losing his job with the Texans. If the Raiders are struggling late in the season, as expected, look for 2014 second-round pick Derek Carr to get playing time. McFadden will now split carries with Maurice Jones-Drew, another injury-prone guy. Perhaps with them sharing carries they can each stay healthy and give Oakland a nice 1-2 punch. Last year's leading rusher, Rashad Jennings, has moved on. Also, former Packer James Jones can only upgrade the very mediocre receiving corps.
This group needs a ton of help, and the Raiders think they got a franchise-type player in Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack at No. 5 overall in the 2014 draft. I'm curious if the Raiders would have taken Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins there had the Bills not traded up one spot in front of Oakland. Allen was the defensive coordinator at Denver during Von Miller's stellar rookie season, and he thinks Mack can have the same sort of impact. Mack was a four-year starter at Buffalo, setting FBS career records for forced fumbles (16) and tackles for loss (75). Other than Mack? Meh. The team lost arguably its best defender from last year, end Lamarr Houston, to Chicago, and best cornerback, Tracy Porter, to Washington. Oakland took a chance on two veterans who used to be good, Justin Tuck of the Giants and LaMarr Woodley of the Steelers. Maybe they have something left.
2014 Oakland Raiders Schedule Analysis
Unfortunately for Oakland, another losing season seems assured: It has the toughest strength of schedule in the NFL as its opponents went 148-108 (.578) in 2013. Obviously that number is inflated by the fact the other three AFC West teams all won at least nine games. Oakland's road schedule is also the toughest, with an opponents' winning percentage of .602. The Raiders are 6-point dogs for Week 1 at the Jets. Oakland lost at MetLife Stadium last year to the Jets, 37-27, in Week 14. The Raiders had to start McGloin at QB and fullback Marcel Reese at tailback back that day. Safe to say that won't happen again. Reece actually had a 63-yard TD run. That was the Raiders' 13th straight loss in the Eastern time zone.
So when will Oakland manage to be favored at all in 2014? You can probably throw out all the road games unless Cleveland is putrid when the Raiders go there in Week 8. Maybe Week 2 against Houston if the Texans are routed in their opener and the Raiders beat the Jets. Otherwise, the only shot is probably Week 16 at home against Buffalo. The Raiders didn't win consecutive games in 2013, and I don't expect that in 2014.
2014 Oakland Raiders Futures Odds
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Raiders are +15000 to win the Super Bowl, +7500 to win the AFC championship and +2500 to take the AFC West. Oakland's wins total is set at 4.5, tied for the fewest with Jacksonville, with the "over" a -160 favorite. Mack is the +400 second-favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
2014 Oakland Raiders Predictions and Odds to Win the Super Bowl
Obviously don't waste your time on those division or title odds. I do think Mack has a great shot at DROY because they will cut him loose to get to the quarterback. The Raiders will not win at the Jets in Week 1, likely losing by a touchdown. I can see five wins: Texans, Dolphins, Chiefs and Bills at home (Chargers wouldn't shock me) and at Cleveland or, don't laugh, at Denver in Week 17. The Broncos could have the AFC's top seed sewn up by then and play all scrubs.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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