The Las Vegas Raiders have started off the 2021 NFL season on a shockingly positive note. Not only did they knock off the Ravens on Monday Night Football, but they followed it up with a road win over the Steelers. Two teams that many viewed as vastly superior to the Raiders, yet, they beat both. After a weird off-season in which the Raiders dismantled their offensive line, they’re now 2-0 heading home to face Miami. With Derek Carr playing at an MVP level and their defensive pass rush looking better than it has in years, Raiders fans are more than excited.

I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, however, but it might be wise to hold off on the excitement for the Raiders. We’ve seen this kind of fast start from this team in seasons past. Last season, through nine games, the Raiders were 6-3, yet they finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. In 2019, through 10 games, they were 6-4 but ended the season 7-9, missing the playoffs. During those seasons, their offensive line was one of the best in the league, Derek Carr was playing at a high level, the Raiders run game was elite, but the defense was among the worst in the league. This season, the offensive line is significantly worse, their run game is second to last, Derek Carr’s maintained a high level of play despite it, and the defense is top 10.

Under Jon Gruden, the Raiders have been a team that starts fast but burns out in the second half of the season. Fans are optimistic about their team’s defensive pass rush and the teams they’ve beat, but there may be some fools gold.

Good Raiders? Or Bad Opponents?

Both the Steelers and Ravens have glaring offensive line issues. Heading into the season, the Steeler’s offensive line was ranked 31st by Pro Football Focus. The Ravens were ranked 12th, but their all-world left tackle Ronnie Stanely got hurt and based on how Alejandro Villanueva has performed, it’s no wonder Pittsburgh didn’t want him back. The Raiders haven’t had a consistent pass rush since Khalil Mack was traded, yet they magically had unstoppable pass rushes against both teams. It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together.

Not to mention, the Raiders barely beat the Ravens, even with all their injuries. I’m not saying that they’re are bad, but week four against the Chargers will be a real test. The Chargers have zero glaring holes on their roster and aren’t riddled with injuries like the Ravens. The Dolphin’s defense will potentially make life difficult for the Raiders, but their offense is anemic even without Tua. From my perspective, injury luck and the football Gods have given the Raiders a prime opportunity to start the season 3-0.

In the end, use caution before you buy fully into the Raiders stock this season. For two straight years, the Raiders have disappointed their fans after giving them hope earlier in the season. Don’t fall into the same trap again.

If you agree or disagree with me and want to tell me about it, @ me on Twitter @KENDRlCKS, and be sure check out more NFL related articles by the Belly Up Sports team!
About Author

Kendrick Lindsay

Growing up in a single-parent household came with its perks and downsides. Perk, I became very close to my mother. The downside, she wasn't a sports watcher. It wasn't until I was 15 years old that I was introduced to the world of sports/sports media. That's when I truly fell in love with it all. And it wasn't the X's and O's that won me over, it was the deep-rooted stories of the business, the athletes, and the ever so changing nature of sports that intrigued me. As a recent college graduate and Communications major, I hope to put my imprint on the sports media world.

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