D. Ross Cameron / Associated Press
Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020 | 9 a.m.
The 2020 NFL season is going to be unforgettable for Las Vegas fans, and not just because we've never seen anything like this COVID-19 setting before. The Raiders are here, Jon Gruden is here, Allegiant Stadium is here and a new era in Vegas sports is here, and the landscape in this city is changed forever.
Heading into the Raiders' inaugural campaign here, let's make 100 predictions for the 2020 season:
Who will lead the team in touchdowns? Josh Jacobs, nine touchdowns
Who will lead the team in receptions? Darren Waller, 80 receptions
Who will lead the team in receiving yards? Darren Waller, 890 yards
How many Raiders will make the Pro Bowl? Four. Veteran center Rodney Hudson is a virtual lock for his fourth selection and right guard Gabe Jackson will break through for his first. Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller will also earn their first nods. None of Las Vegas’ defensive players will make the cut though.
What will be the Raiders’ longest winning streak? Three games, Weeks 7-9 (vs. Tampa Bay, at Cleveland, at Los Angeles Chargers)
What will be the longest losing streak? Three games, Weeks 10-12 (vs. Denver, vs. Kansas City, at Atlanta)
Where will the Raiders finish in the AFC West? Tied for second place with Denver, though the Broncos will win the tiebreaker by going 2-0 against Las Vegas head-to-head
Will the Raiders make the playoffs? No
How many games will the Raiders win at Allegiant Stadium? Four
How many game-winning drives will Derek Carr record? One. Carr will lead the Raiders to a last-second victory over Tampa Bay in Week 7, bleeding down the clock on the final drive and scoring with almost no time on the clock to give the Raiders a 28-27 victory.
How many touchdown passes will Derek Carr throw? 26
How many games will Josh Jacobs rush for 100 yards? Five
What will be the Raiders’ highest-scoring game? 38 points, against the New York Jets in Week 13
What will be the Raiders’ lowest-scoring game? 10 points, in a loss at New England in Week 3
How many Raiders quarterbacks will throw a touchdown pass? One, as Derek Carr will stay healthy and start all 16 games
How many times will Derek Carr fumble through the end zone for a touchback while reaching for the pylon? Zero. He has to have learned his lesson by now, right?
How many defensive touchdowns will the Raiders score? Two
Will Daniel Carlson make a walk-off field goal? No
Will the Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs? No, the Raiders will lose both matchups against the defending Super Bowl champions
How many touchdowns will the Raiders’ rookie class score? 10
What will be the longest pass play of the season? 68 yards, Derek Carr to Hunter Renfrow
What will be the longest rushing play of the season? 50 yards, Josh Jacobs
Who will lead the team in sacks? Maxx Crosby, 7.5 sacks. Crosby was surprisingly productive as a rookie, notching a team-leading 10.0 sacks, but his modest 31 pressures suggest the sack total will come down this season.
Who will lead the team in tackles? Johnathan Abram, 110 combined tackles
How many interceptions will Damon Arnette record? Two
How many games will Derek Carr pass for 300 yards? Four
How many games will Derek Carr throw three touchdown passes? Five
Will the Raiders score a special teams touchdown? No
How many receiving yards will Darren Waller record? 890 yards
How many receiving yards will Henry Ruggs record? 747 yards
How many receiving yards will Bryan Edwards record? 510 yards
How many games will the top-five offensive linemen start together? 12 games. The Raiders have perhaps the league’s top offensive line, but with left guard Richie Incognito up there in age and right tackle Trent Brown missing most of training camp (and recovering from a torn pectoral that ended his 2019 season), the team will be forced to do some shuffling throughout the season.
Where will the Raiders rank in run defense? 18th
Where will the Raiders rank in pass defense? 24th
Where will the Raiders rank in red-zone defense? 21st
How many touchdowns will Patrick Mahomes throw against Las Vegas this year? Six
What will be the Raiders’ best win? Back-to-back home wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins in Weeks 15-16 will keep the Raiders’ playoff hopes alive. Those games in tandem slightly edge out an exciting home victory over Tampa Bay in Week 7.
What will be the Raiders’ worst loss? The final wild card spot will be at stake when the Raiders travel to Denver in Week 17, and it will be a bitter ending for Las Vegas. The Broncos will move on to the postseason by virtue of a hard-fought, 21-10 victory.
Will Las Vegas win a game in prime time? Yes. Twice, actually — the Raiders will beat Tampa Bay on Sunday night in Week 7, then top the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night in Week 15.
Will Las Vegas shut out an opponent? No
Will the Las Vegas defense hold an opponent without a touchdown? No
Will the Raiders’ offense be held without a touchdown in a game? No. They’ll come close in a Week 3 loss at New England, but a late garbage-time touchdown will get the Raiders into double digits on the scoreboard.
How many games will the Raiders score 30 points? Four
How many Raiders games will go to overtime? Zero
How many passes defensed will Cory Littleton record? Six
How many sacks will Maliek Collins record? 5.5
How many pressures will Maliek Collins record? 40
How many sacks will Clelin Ferrell record? 5.0. This is not an optimistic prediction, but Ferrell showed so little as a pass rusher last year (4.5 sacks, 15 pressures in 15 games) that there's no reason to think he's in store for a big sophomore campaign. He did get in better shape over the offseason, so at least he's giving himself an honest chance.
How many sacks will Maxx Crosby record? 7.5
How many games will Johnathan Abram play? 16
How many games will Javin White play? Eight
Will the Raiders play a game in front of fans at some point this year? Yes. While Mark Davis has already announced that Allegiant Stadium will not allow spectators this year, not all of the Raiders’ road opponents are on board with the empty stadium plan. Kansas City will try a limited-attendance approach, though once they hold their banner-raising ceremony in Week 1 they may not see the point anymore. Cleveland is also trying to implement a pod seating system. The rest of the road opponents are likely to be empty, but between Kansas City in Week 5 and Cleveland in Week 8, at least one of them will have live fans. Pray for them.
Who will play the most offensive snaps? Rodney Hudson, 1,168
Who will play the most defensive snaps? Johnathan Abram. In 2019, Abram’s overexuberance led to the rookie safety injuring his shoulder while attempting to deliver a big hit in Week 1; a year older, Abram better understands that Las Vegas needs him on the field. He’ll stay there in 2020, playing almost a thousand snaps to lead the team.
How many games will Derek Carr post a passer rating over 100? Six
How many interceptions will Derek Carr throw? 10
Will Trayvon Mullen return an interception for a touchdown? No
Will a Raider be named AFC Offensive Player of the Week? Yes, Josh Jacobs in Week 7 against Tampa Bay and Darren Waller in Week 13 against the New York Jets.
Will a Raider be named AFC Defensive Player of the Week? No
Who will be Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded Raider in 2020? Rodney Hudson, 91.6
How many offensive touches will rookie running back/receiver Lynn Bowden get? 58 (44 carries, 14 catches)
Who will get more snaps, Marcus Mariota or Nathan Peterman? Mariota
Who will score the first touchdown at Allegiant Stadium? Foster Moreau
Which rookie will play more snaps at linebacker, Javin White or Tanner Muse? White. “At linebacker” is the key phrase, as Muse could become a core special teamer and see the field a ton in that role. But White has a better chance of carving out a niche role in defensive sub packages due to his pass-coverage ability.
How many weeks into the season before Raiders fans call for Paul Guenther’s head? Giving up 31 points to Denver in a Week 10 loss will get the fan base riled up, and two more consecutive losses will have fans really frustrated with the performance of the supposedly rebuilt defense. And when one side of the ball underperforms, the coordinator gets the blame.
How many rushing yards for Josh Jacobs? 1,210
How many rushing touchdowns for Josh Jacobs? Eight (and one receiving TD)
Will fans and media continue to bring up the Khalil Mack trade? Yes, but they shouldn’t. That trade has turned into a massive win for the Raiders, as they got Jacobs, first-round cornerback Damon Arnette and third-round receiver Bryan Edwards in exchange for Mack, all while not having to hand Mack a six-year, $141-million contract. Las Vegas now has three young cornerstone players while Mack is already heading into his age-29 season, which is greybeard territory in the NFL. Give Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden a hand for that one.
Where will Darren Waller rank among tight ends in receiving yards and touchdowns? Fourth and sixth, respectively
How many penalties will the Raiders commit? 150
Will the Raiders lead the league in penalties? No! Like last year, the Raiders will finish sixth in total flags.
Will the Raiders regret not making a bigger push to sign Tom Brady? No. The Raiders were rumored to be a potential free-agent destination for Brady, but Mayock and Gruden eventually decided to stick with Derek Carr. And while some fans will grumble because Carr will never be a superstar, he’ll quiet a lot of that talk by playing well in a head-to-head win over Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7.
Where will Las Vegas rank in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA ratings? 24th
Where will Las Vegas rank in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA ratings? Eighth
Will Rodney Hudson be named first-team All-Pro? Yes
Which Las Vegas running back will have the most receptions? Jalen Richard, 40 catches. Starter Josh Jacobs wants to catch more passes after hauling in 20 as a rookie, but the Raiders are trying to decrease his workload, not expand it. Rookie Lynn Bowden could eventually develop into a receiving threat out of the backfield, but in 2020 expect Richard to hold onto his role as the primary third-down back. And with Derek Carr at quarterback, that safety-valve option is going to be busy most weeks.
Who will play more snaps at slot cornerback, Lamarcus Joyner or Amik Robertson? Joyner
How many yards per rush will the Raiders defense allow? 4.1
How many passes will Nelson Agholor drop? This question is a little unfair, as Pro-Football Reference charted just four drops by Agholor on 69 targets last year. His problem was that some of his mishandles came in important situations, and that led to viral videos about his hypothetical ability (or inability) to catch babies tossed from burning buildings. A change of scenery could lead to a bounce-back campaign for Agholor.
How many receptions will Hunter Renfrow make? 72
How many of Hunter Renfrow’s catches will go for first downs? 46
What will be Henry Ruggs’ longest play from scrimmage? 49 yards
How many touchdowns will Bryan Edwards score? Four
Will the Raiders be alive for the playoff hunt heading into Week 17? Yes
85-100. Which games will Las Vegas win (and lose) in 2020?
Sept. 13 at Carolina — Win, 19-13
Sept. 21 vs. New Orleans — Loss, 24-17
Sept. 27 at New England — Loss, 17-10
Oct. 4 vs. Buffalo — Win, 31-14
Oct. 11 at Kansas City — Loss, 35-24
Oct. 25 vs. Tampa Bay — Win, 28-27
Nov. 1 at Cleveland — Win, 25-14
Nov. 8 at Los Angeles Chargers — Win, 30-14
Nov. 15 vs. Denver — Loss, 31-20
Nov. 22 vs. Kansas City — Loss, 41-28
Nov. 29 at Atlanta — Loss, 28-20
Dec. 6 at New York Jets — Win, 38-10
Dec. 13 vs. Indianapolis — Loss, 14-13
Dec. 17 vs. Los Angeles Chargers — Win, 34-18
Dec. 26/27 vs. Miami — Win, 24-20
Jan. 3 at Denver — Loss, 21-20