With odds already posted for teams to reach Super Bowl XLIX, the Oakland Raiders can take solace in at least one bit of history.
Going into the 1999 NFL season, the St. Louis Rams were posted as 300-1 bets to win the Super Bowl. But, with a dynamic new quarterback in Kurt Warner and “The Greatest Show on Turf,” the high-scoring Rams won the NFC title and then beat the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV on Jan. 30, 2000.
The Raiders, meanwhile, are facing only 200-1 or 100-1 odds – depending on the oddsmaker – to reach the next Super Bowl.
As one story noted this week, in writing about the 200-1 odds placed on the Raiders by Betonline.ag: “If they keep Matt McGloin or Terrelle Pryor as their quarterback of the future, they will be here (an NFL bottom-dweller) for a long time.”
Plus, at least the Raiders have company. The Jacksonville Jaguars are right there with them at the bottom of the NFL pile.
In another ranking, Oakland comes in at No. 30 in Pete Prisco’s final NFL power rating for CBS Sports, two places behind the Jaguars and ahead of the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans. Wrote Prisco of the Raiders: “Dennis Allen is staying, but the bad news is the roster isn’t very good. They have a tough rebuilding job.”
Fortunately for the Raiders, they have plenty of money to pour into that rebuilding effort. Because on another ranking – available salary cap space – the Raiders are the champions of the NFL’s pending offseason.
According to the website NFLspinzone.com, the Raiders head into the 2014 shopping season with $63,633,401 to spare under their projected salary cap for the coming year. Another site that tracks such things, Overthecap.com, estimates the Raiders have just slightly less available, at $61,287,920. Whichever number is correct, the bottom line is the same: the Raiders may not have a very strong roster now, but they have the funds in their checking account to make a difference.
General manager Reggie McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis now will be able to invest heavily in their future this offseason. As McKenzie noted in his postseason news conference, the Raiders have many needs – not just the glaring hole at quarterback – and they have to do an across-the-board upgrade by adding free agents and rookies that can make a difference while also retaining key free agents on their own roster.
“We’re going to upgrade this team personnel-wise,” promised McKenzie.
Most observers, however, don’t expect the Raiders to go crazy with their checkbook, but to be smart shoppers.
“If McKenzie adopts the Green Bay philosophy as anticipated, he won’t be aggressive in the first wave of free agency when teams overpay players in a seller’s market,” wrote Joel Corry, a former sports agent, for CBS Sports.
With a strong offseason, however, McKenzie could go a long way to improving the Raiders’ odds for 2014.