Oakland Raiders Have Been a Big Surprise

Wayne Root: Oakland Raiders Have Been a Big Surprise

It's been a long time...but Las Vegas (and Reno) regulars know that sportsbooks can get wild and crazy in the years that the Oakland Raiders are a winning team. The two California franchises (Oakland and San Francisco) are the "local" teams here in terms of fan response and TV coverage. Oakland fans in particular like to dress up and get loud.

This year's team probably won't finish as a winner. They'd have to sweep the final month! But, I can assure you that virtually NOBODY here in Las Vegas thought they would have been 5-6 through 11 games. A loss to Kansas City last week dropped them to 5-7. And, now the team is looking at 5-8 as a 7-point underdog at Denver. Just remember that "the market" had them at 4-9 through 13 games...being favored four times and an underdog nine times. And, two of those favorite spots were at -1 and -2.

Most importantly to me...things are looking up for the future.

*Quarterback Derek Carr has been amazing. He currently ranks #7 in the NFL in passer rating. And, he's not doing that with smoke and mirrors. He's thrown 26 touchdown passes with just 9 interceptions. That's elite by 2015 standards. He's not quite Tom Brady of course...but he has the stats of a "top 25% quarterback" as a youngster. That speaks very well for his future.

*Jack Del Rio is in his first season as a head coach. He was derided while in Jacksonville. But, he's brought a sense of professionalism to what had been a zoo. And, the players obviously love playing for him! You're seeing effort every week. Even last Sunday's 34-20 loss to Kansas City saw the Raiders win total yardage 361-232. They got sloppy in a few spots, which isn't surprising given their grueling schedule.

*And, look at that schedule! Oakland is 5-7 right now with great quarterback stats despite being yanked all over the country in one of the most brutal long term travel sequences ever. They've already played five early kickoffs even though they're a West Coast team. They've only played two home games since mid-October. The recent schedule has really been yanking them all over the place. These guys might have been a Wildcard team this year if they could have endured fewer frequent flier miles.

Think about what all that means for the future. Del Rio has them on the right track to consistency and respectability. Carr now looks to be in the early years of a long and successful career. The schedule won't always be this tricky...even if West Coast teams are behind the eight ball every season a bit because of their geographic location. For now, the Raiders' future is very bright.

I'm really interested to see how Oakland responds to the challenge this week in Denver. You know these franchises hate each other. And, the Raiders will have the edge at the quarterback position. Sure...what had been 5-6 could ultimately drift to 5-11 (vs. Green Bay, vs. San Diego, and at Kansas City on deck). I would blame that on fatigue more than anything. Again...you can't trick your way to 26/9 TD/interception ratio. And, this team's body language on the sideline remains strong. Even if they run out of gas this year...I don't expect them to be bullied next year.

Will THE KING OF UPSETS WAYNE ALLYN ROOT be calling for an upset with the Raiders on Sunday? You have to be a paying customer to find out! You've probably noticed that the betting line has been dropping. Denver opened at -8...but it's now down to -7.5 or even -7. The sharpest bettors have sure learned to respect the Raiders. If that drop continues, betting value on Oakland may be taken away. I have until game day to make my final decision. 

You can always purchase my BEST BETS in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about which of my services best suits your individual needs, please talk to one of my representatives in the office at 1-877-ROOT-WINS. Be sure to ask about my extensive college bowl package that will be getting under way in a matter of days. I have great combination packages that also include college basketball and the NBA.

Las Vegas really sizzles on Sundays in the years when either the Raiders or 49ers are good. It may be awhile before San Francisco returns to greatness. It's Oakland's turn! Let's see if the Silver and Black can make a statement Sunday in Denver. Carr will be facing a great defense on the road just as he's starting to deal with the expectations of a successful quarterback. Big litmus test!

See you again early next week as we start to gear up for the bowls. What's the best way to pick upsets in the college football postseason? The man with more documented calls than any other handicapper in the industry still have some advice for you.

Put the buzz back in your bankroll. It's time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!


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