Jon Gruden era in Oakland take two. Gruden will coach in the NFL for the time in a decade. His last season was with the Buccaneers back in 2008 after getting fired following an abysmal 4-win season. The Bucs haven’t been much of anything since the Gruden era and the same could be said for the Raiders, albeit they’ve been on the cusp of becoming a top-tier team. He won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Bucs in 2003, defeating her former team, the Raiders.
Now after dabbling in broadcasting with ESPN for the past nine years, Gruden is back on the sideline in Oakland and will likely be the first head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Mark Davis put too much money on the table for Gruden to refuse. He may have liked working in the booth as a broadcaster, but Davis made it difficult on Gruden to say no.
His first move with the team didn’t fall in favor of many Raiders’ fans. The Raiders sent Khalil Mack packing to Chicago. Mack, the Raiders’ best linebacker and best defender, leaves the defense with a gaping hole. The Raiders do shed a large contract, but it’s going to be difficult explaining that to anyone right now.
It doesn’t seem like Raiders’ players are particularly fond of the move either, with Amari Cooper saying they may have to score every time the offense has the ball. I think that’s just more frustration than anything. The Raiders should still have an okay defense without Mack, but they’re likely to feel his loss this season. I think the organization has made it clear that they are revving up for their future in Las Vegas. The Raiders added a weapon for Derek Carr in the offseason to aid the passing game. Jordy Nelson goes from Green Bay to Oakland, as he looks to revive his career after just 482 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2017. Aaron Rodgers was none too pleased after Nelson left but he should provide some help for Carr.
There isn’t any crying in Los Angeles, as the Rams were able to come to terms with Aaron Donald. Donald is the premier defensive lineman in the NFL and he and Ndamukong Suh are going to be tough to handle this season. We’ll see if the Raiders have an answer for these two on Monday Night Football. Head below for our free Rams vs. Raiders pick on Monday Night Football for the final matchup of Week 1.
L.A. Rams vs. Oakland Raiders NFL Week 1 Betting Odds:
Rams -4.5 (-105)
vs. Raiders +4.5(-115)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Rams vs. Raiders Pick:
Jared Goff and the Rams looked like a different bunch under first-year head coach Sean McVay. The Rams went from 4-12 and 3rd in the NFC West to a Super Bowl contender with a record of 11-5 and 1st in the division. Last year is seen as a stepping stone to what should be bigger things this season. Sometimes when everyone is riding a team, they are vulnerable to coming up short, though.
This team is pretty stacked on paper, though. Jared Goff is lost Sammy Watkins and Tavon Austin, but he gets speedster Brandin Cooks for the vertical passing game. Don’t sleep on Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp as well. Kupp is going to be a lot to handle for some defenses in the slot. He could be an x-factor in this game against the Raiders, who just said goodbye to their best linebacker.
Todd Gurley is back and looking to add to his best year yet. He rushed for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns. Gurley is also a threat in the passing game, as he’s hauled in 64 receptions for 788 yards and an additional 6 touchdowns. If Goff shows improvement from last season the Rams are going to go places. Goff was fantastic with 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions a year ago, but going into his third-year, there may be room for more. The Raiders finished 23rd in the NFL with 350.1 yards allowed per game. They were poor against the pass, allowing 241.1 passing yards per game for 26th in the league.
The Raiders are down 10.5 sacks and 78 tackles with Mack out of the lineup. With Mack in Chicago, there is going to be an extra emphasis on Bruce Irvin to come up big for the Raiders here. I don’t know if he’s at a point in his career where he can be a feature linebacker, though. The Raiders are dealing with a retooled secondary in 2018.
Newly acquired cornerback Rashaan Melvin figures to play a big role in the Raiders’ defense, but he’s going to have to hold up or this secondary is going to be in trouble quickly. They are banking on second-year corner, Gareon Conley, to chip in and help this season. He’s dealt with injuries and already went into training camp battling a hip injury. Conley hasn’t proven he can be a starting cornerback thus far in the NFL despite his first-round selection in 2017.
The Rams are likely going to be able to score at will with their bevy of weapons if they can’t frustrate Goff early. Force him into mistakes and the Raiders will have a shot at the upset. However, without Mack rushing the passer, it’s going to be hard to disrupt the passing game. Carr would have to trade points against a secondary that allowed 217.2 passing yards per game in 2017. They got better going into this season as well, with the additions of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. I would be more inclined to side with the Raiders if they had a team traveling to California from the west coast, but they have a talented Rams squad making a short trip to Oakland. I expect a 30-20 or 30-23 win for the Rams, so a play at -4.5 looks like a good bet on Monday Night Football.