With the 51st Super Bowl now history, the NFL’s focus turns to the 2017 season and the road to the next Super Bowl. And, for the first time in a long while, the Raiders will go into the offseason conversation as one of the league’s top-tier teams capable of playing in Super Bowl LII.
After finishing 12-4 in 2016 and reaching the playoffs for the first time since the 2012 season, the Raiders have been given 20-1 opening odds to win the next NFL championship by Westgate Las Vegas Super Book. At this time last year, Oakland was at 50-1.
That puts Oakland among the top 10 favorites, behind the champion Patriots (listed at 6-1), the Cowboys and Steelers (each at 10-1), the Packers and Seahawks (12-1), Falcons (16-1) and Panthers, Broncos, Chiefs and Raiders, all at 20-1.
The teams with the longest odds are the 49ers and Browns, at 300-1.
In addition, the Raiders are ranked seventh in ESPN.com’s early Power Rankings for 2017. Oakland trails the Patriots, Falcons, Cowboys, Packers, Seahawks and Steelers in rankings determined by a panel of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities at ESPN.
Kevin Seifert, an NFL analyst, writes that Oakland “turned a major corner” in 2016 with the growth of Derek Carr into one of the league’s top young quarterbacks. Seifert also cites the Raiders’ “dangerously balanced offense” as one of the team’s best assets, behind a top offensive line.
But, he writes, there are concerns going into 2017.
“An unexpected transition at offensive coordinator is worth monitoring,” he wrote. “Quarterbacks coach Todd Downing was promoted to replace Bill Musgrave, whose contract was not renewed. On paper, it will be difficult to improve substantially on an offense that ranked No. 6 in scoring (25.6 points per game). Downing is close with Carr, however. The Raiders also will address a defense that allowed 375.1 yards per game (No. 26 in the NFL) but minimized damage by forcing 30 turnovers.”
If the Raiders do address their defensive problems and again force their way into the postseason tournament and through the AFC Championship Game, here’s what Raiders fans will need to know:
Super Bowl LII will be Feb. 4, 2018, at the Minnesota Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium.