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Like the Raiders over? Here’s why it might not be a bad bet

Updated May 27, 2024 - 11:56 am

The odds are stacked against the Raiders having a winning season, let alone contending for a division title or making a Super Bowl run.

But at least one prominent oddsmaker and one professional sports bettor expect the Raiders to eclipse their regular-season win total.

The Raiders’ win total opened at 6½ at Circa Sports, Station Sports, South Point, Caesars, Boyd Gaming and BetMGM sportsbooks. But the Westgate SuperBook opened them at 7.

“Most people had the Raiders 6½. We went on the 7 side just because we think there’s a better shot at 8 than 6,” SuperBook veteran NFL oddsmaker Ed Salmons said. “We think the Raiders are farther ahead than they were last year at this time. To me, it’s over or nothing. There’s no way I’d look to bet the Raiders under.”

The Raiders also have climbed to 7 at Caesars after the number sat at 6½ (over -160). They are 6½ (over -125) at the South Point.

The Raiders went 8-9 last season. They started 3-5 under former coach Josh McDaniels, but finished 5-4 after McDaniels was replaced by interim coach Antonio Pierce.

Pierce, named the team’s permanent coach in January, benched veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo last season in favor of rookie Aidan O’Connell. The Raiders released Garoppolo in March. O’Connell will compete with veteran Gardner Minshew for the starting job.

“We thought that this year’s version of the Raiders has more potential than last year’s,” Salmons said. “Last year, we were kind of thinking on the negative side on the Raiders. I didn’t like Jimmy (Garoppolo) going into the year.

“The Raiders fired (McDaniels), and (Pierce) came in and certainly changed the attitude of the team, and they played well down the stretch. They were willing to run the ball and play really good defense and, if you can do that, you can win games in the league.”

The Raiders finished ninth in the NFL in scoring defense last season. They allowed 19.5 points per game.

“The Raiders don’t have much in the quarterbacking (department). But their defense is certainly going to be improved. I like their coach, who’s defensive-oriented,” pro bettor Jeff Whitelaw said. “I’m thinking they’re going to be somewhere in the 7- to 8-win range. I would lean to the over a little bit.

“I’m not so sure how they’re going to be offensively. But they’ll be very good defensively. They’ll be competitive in a lot of games.”

The Raiders are 3-1 underdogs at the SuperBook to make the playoffs and the +845 third choice to win the AFC West. They’re 100-1 long shots to win the Super Bowl.

Here’s a quick glance at the rest of the division:

AFC West

The Chiefs (11½, under -120) are the -220 favorites to win their eighth straight division title. They’re also the 6-1 second choice to win their third consecutive Super Bowl.

The Chargers (9, under -130), under new coach Jim Harbaugh, are the +325 second choice to win the division and 30-1 to win the Super Bowl.

The Broncos (5½, over -130) are 20-1 long shots to win the division and 100-1 to win the Super Bowl.

“Harbaugh is building the team the way he likes it, which is a strong offensive line, run the ball, have a quarterback that doesn’t make mistakes and play good defense. It just may take awhile to get his team into the fold,” Salmons said. “The Chiefs are the Chiefs as long as (quarterback Patrick) Mahomes is there. But as each year goes by, they lose another guy or two off the defense.

“The defense is what’s carried this team. As great as Mahomes is, the defense is what won that Super Bowl last year. They were incredible in the playoffs and even better in the Super Bowl.

“Denver looks like a total rebuild. That’s a team the Raiders can easily sweep.”

Whitelaw is also down on the Broncos.

“Denver looks terrible,” he said. “Kansas City will win the division, (the Chargers) will come in second, the Raiders will come in third and Denver in fourth. It seems like a pretty predictable division.”

That exact AFC West outcome is the 2-1 favorite at BetMGM.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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