Welcome to FanSided’s 2022 NFL preview! It’s time to look into our crystal football and take a glimpse at the Las Vegas Raiders season prediction.
For only the second time since the 2002 NFL season, the Raiders franchise made the playoffs during the 2021 campaign. Despite having to navigate so many issues off the field, including a fatal car crash and a head coach dismissal, Las Vegas was still able to win their final four regular season games, and clinch a Wild Card spot.
Las Vegas Raiders 2021 season in review
- 10-7 record
- 2nd place in AFC West
- Lost in Wild Card to Bengals
The 2021 Las Vegas Raiders had quite an up-and-down season, as they dealt with more issues off the field than on it. On the field, the team got a terrific season from quarterback Derek Carr and saw wide receiver Hunter Renfrow break out into a potential superstar at the position group.
On defense, Maxx Crosby continued to establish himself as one of the best players in football, leading a unit that improved from the year before. Head coach Jon Gruden was dismissed after leaked emails found in an investigation into the Washington Football Team came to light.
Despite all that went on, the Raiders banded together down the stretch, winning four straight regular season games, including an instant classic against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 18. Not many expected the Silver and Black to be a playoff team, especially during such a roller coaster of a regular season, but there they were, taking on the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round.
Las Vegas would lose to the Bengals in the Wild Card round but have set the stage for what should be an exciting season in the desert in 2022.
Las Vegas Raiders NFL Draft class 2022
- Round 3, Pick No. 90: Dylan Parham, G, Memphis
- Round 4, Pick No. 122: Zamir White, RB, Georgia
- Round 4, Pick No. 126: Neil Farrell, DT, LSU
- Round 5, Pick No. 175: Matthew Butler, DT, Tennessee
- Round 7, Pick No. 238: Thayer Munford Jr., OT, Ohio State
- Round 7, Pick No. 250: Brittain Brown, RB, UCLA
Thanks to the trade they made with the Green Bay Packers for Davante Adams, the Raiders did not hold a 2022 NFL Draft pick until the third round. With that pick, they attempted to solidify the offensive line, adding Memphis interior lineman, Dylan Parham.
Holding two fourth-round picks, Las vegas added a talented running back in Zamir White, a player who is going to be a real playmaker inside the red zone in Year 1. White has the size and strength to barrel over defenders, even at the NFL level, and has put together an impressive summer for the Raiders.
With their next two picks, Las Vegas added talent to the interior of their defensive line, spending back-to-back picks on defensive tackles. Neil Farrell from LSU and Matthew Butler from Tennessee will help fortify a defensive front that has elite talent coming off the edges.
To wrap up their draft, Las Vegas brought in Thayer Munford from Ohio State, who has looked like he could challenge to be the starting right tackle as a rookie. Brittan Brown from UCLA was their final pick, and while he will struggle to play as a rookie, he is talented enough to be placed on the practice squad, and eventually, make an impact in the Silver and Black.
Previewing Raiders offense for 2022 season
- Key offseason additions
- Davante Adams, WR
- Dylan Parham, OG
- Zamir White, RB
- Brandon Bolden, RB
- Biggest X-Factor: Davante Adams, WR
- Squeakiest Wheel: Zamir White, RB
It was an outstanding offseason for the Las Vegas Raiders in terms of the skill position players they brought in on the offensive side of the ball. Last year, the Raiders struggled to find that WR1 on the outside, a problem they fixed by bringing in arguably the best player in that role in the NFL, Davante Adams via a trade with Green Bay.
When you consider this is an offense that already has Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller available in the passing game, Derek Carr is going to have plenty of options to throw to every week. The running game will be bolstered by Zamir White, Brandon Bolden, and Ameer Abdullah, three guys who should be able to contribute enough for Josh Jacobs to stay healthy for a full slate of games.
All told if the Raiders can get good protection, and the offensive line takes a step in the right direction, they are going to be very hard to hold in check for a full four quarters.
In terms of the biggest impact player, Adams has to be the one, as he and Derek Carr are old buddies from their time together at Fresno State. Adams and Carr should be able to connect early and often, and with more weapons around him, than he did in Green Bay, Adams could be in for his best season as a pro.
One player who could make a real impact as well is Zamir White, a rookie from Georgia who has the size and strength to be a monster in short-yardage situations, and around the goalline. If he can play the way he did all summer when the games really count, he becomes an absolute steal for the Silver and Black and enables them to eventually move on from Josh Jacobs.
Previewing Raiders defense for 2022 season
- Key offseason additions
- Chandler Jones, DE
- Rock Ya-Sin, CB
- Duron Harmon, S
- Jayon Brown, LB
- Biggest X-Factor: Maxx Crosby, DE
- Squeakiest Wheel: Duron Harmon
For years, the defense for the Raiders franchise has been a real issue, something this new regime set out to change after taking over this offseason. They pulled the trigger on a monster acquisition, getting Chandler Jones to complement Maxx Crosby in the pass rush, something that could make this team elite in that category in 2022.
At linebacker, there are plenty of new faces in town, including guys like Jayon Brown, Luke Masterson, and Darien Butler. They will join a position group with an exciting young player in Divine Deablo, who showed as a rookie last season that he could be a player the Raiders can build around on that side of the ball.
Finally, the secondary is where the Raiders did their most work, bringing in talent like cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and safety Duron Harmon to finally make the defensive backfield a strength. Last year, Nate Hobbs and Tre’Von Moehrig emerged as rookies to be key players for the Raiders, and with more talent around them, they will likely take another step forward in their development.
The biggest impact player on the Raiders roster this season will be Maxx Crosby, who has established himself as one of the best young players in football. A true menace to any offensive line, Crosby will benefit from a bolstered interior of the defensive line, as well as help on the edge from Jones, giving the Raiders an incredible 1-2 punch.
The player who could become the squeakiest wheel is Duron Harmon, who was nicknamed the “closer” in New England. Harmon will not only start alongside Moehrig, but will help in the development of Johnathan Abram, who has not lived up to his first-round draft slot his first few seasons in the NFL.
Las Vegas Raiders coaching staff overview
- Head Coach: Josh McDaniels
- Off. Coordinator: Mick Lombardi
- Def. Coordinator: Patrick Graham
- 2023 Head Coach Candidate: Patrick Graham
The Raiders revamped the coaching staff this offseason out of necessity, as Jon Gruden was fired midway through the 2021 season due to off-the-field issues. Gruden was seen as a savior for this franchise when they brought him out of retirement, but he was underwhelming in his second stint with the team.
Now, the Raiders turn to Josh McDaniels, making his second stint as an NFL head coach. In his first time around, he coached the rival Denver Broncos, before returning to the New Egland Patriots, where he won a bunch of rings as the team’s offensive coordinator.
Mick Lombardi will take over as offensive coordinator, and will have the benefit of running an offense perfected by McDaniels in New England. Patrick Graham, the new defensive coordinator, brings a new scheme to Las Vegas, and the tandem of Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby should thrive in his defense.
In fact, I like Graham to parlay his stint as the Raiders defensive coordinator into him being a head coach, possibly as soon as next season. He worked wonders with a bad New York Giants team in 2021 and has more talent to work with in his first season in the desert.
Las Vegas Raiders Awards Watch
For the first time in a long time, the Las Vegas Raiders franchise has multiple guys who could bring home some serious hardware in 2022. They have MVP candidates, Defensive Player of the Year candidates, and more potential breakout stars than the franchise has had in quite some time.
Derek Carr, MVP
When it comes to NFL players, there are very few that are as polarizing as Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is. Ever since being drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Carr has had his doubters, and it seemed like every offseason, fans were clamoring for the Silver and Black to move on from him.
That was until this offseason, when the new regime, led by David Ziegler decided to extend Carr, sending a clear message that he was going to be the guy for the long haul. They also went out and brought his best friend, and elite wideout, Davante Adams into the fold, cementing their commitment to No. 4.
Now, with an incredible host of weapons around him, Carr is in the best position of his career and could lead to a career year for him. He was an MVP candidate back in 2016 when he nearly led the Raiders to an AFC West title, an accomplishment he could earn this upcoming season.
If Carr goes off, and the Raiders win the toughest division in football, he is a legitimate MVP candidate.
Maxx Crosby, Defensive Player of the Year
Since being selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, a draft that saw the Raiders spend the No. 4 overall pick on Clelin Ferrell, edge rusher Maxx Crosby has taken the NFL world by storm. A legitimate superstar entering Year 4, Crosby is on the footsteps of being a true Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Last season, it was the Crosby Show on the defensive side of the ball, and tehre is a lot more talent around going into this year. Crosby has an All-Pro on the opposite side of him in Chandler Jones, an teammate that can help Crosby take his game to the next level.
As is the case with Carr, Crosby plays in the toughest division in football, and the Raiders have to play three elite quarterbacks within the AFC West. If Crosby can rack up a career-high in sacks, and the Raiders defense takes a big leap forward, he will be a serious contender to be named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Josh McDaniels, Coach of the Year
During his time with the New England Patriots, Josh McDaniels established himself as one of the best assistant coaches in football. He was named head coach of the Denver Broncos after his success with the Patriots, and after returning, nearly became the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
Now, after a successful stint in New England, he takes over in Las Vegas, and this time around, he is ready for success. Sometimes you need a second chance to prove that you were the right choice all along, and with the Raiders, he inherits a playoff team from a year ago, and one that has more talent than it did last summer.
Las Vegas plays in a very tough division, so all eyes will be on McDaniels as he tries to navigate one of the tougher schedules in football. If the Raiders win the AFC West, and do so convincingly, not only will McDaniels prove he was the right hire this time around, but could be named NFL’s Coach of the Year.
Biggest game on Las Vegas Raiders schedule
For the past six years, the Kansas City Chiefs have owned the AFC West, winning six divisional titles, and making it to two Super Bowls. Kansas City is the gold standard when it comes to the division, but they lost some key players from last year’s team, including star wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Still, in order to win the AFC West, you have to get through Kansas City, and the Raiders will get their first crack at them in Week 5 inside Arrowhead Stadium. That game will be the Raiders first primetime game of the season, and the first chance for the world to see all of the changes the Silver and Black made this offseason.
Playing against the hated Chiefs on Monday Night Football is a great chance for the Raiders to establish themselves in a very tough AFC West division. It is also the game right before their bye week, and nothing would be sweeter than going into the bye after just beating your division rival on the road.
Las Vegas Raiders season prediction: Best case scenario
So what is considered a best-case scenario for this Raiders team in 2022? Last year, they exceeded all expectations by winning double-digit games and punching their ticket to the playoffs despite being left for dead midway through the year.
A best-case for the Silver and Black would be to keep moving in the right direction, making it to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 20 years. If they can put together another double-digit win season, they could end up at the top of the AFC West, and be in a prime position to make a serious run to a Super Bowl appearance.
In Josh McDaniels’s first season, that seems a bit unlikely, but if they can get to the playoffs, they should be able to secure their first playoff victory in 20 years. That would be a great first year for McDaniels, and would establish the Raiders as a team to beat in the AFC for the foreseeable future.
Las Vegas Raiders season prediction: Worst-case scenario
The worst-case scenario for the Raiders, after all the changes this offseason, would be to take a step backwards in 2022, no matter how small or big. This is a team that is built to win now, and the franchise went out and spent a lot of money to keep most of their superstar players in the desert for the next few years.
Taking a step back would also be an indictment on Josh McDaniels, as this team won last year with an interim head coach in Rich Bisaccia, and many in the fan base wanted him to return in 2022. McDaniels left Denver after struggling as a head coach over a decade ago, so a repeat performance of that would not bode well for the future of this franchise.
Anything less than a playoff season for the Silver and Black would be a serious disappointment.
Las Vegas Raiders 2022 season prediction
- 12-5 record
- 2nd place in AFC West
- Playoff Prediction: Loss in AFC Divisional Round
The divisional schedule for the Raiders is a tough one, that is for sure, but there are also a ton of winnable non-divisional games on the slate in 2022. The Silver and Black take on multiple teams that are starting new quarterbacks this season, and do get to go to Kansas City early in the year, where they won during the 2020 NFL season.
The middle of the schedule gets easier for Las Vegas, as they take on Jacksonville, Houston, and New Orleans all right out of the bye week. They also go on the road early against the Tennessee Titans, a very winnable game, and will get to take on the Geno Smith or Drew Lock-led Seattle Seahawks.
I believe they will win four of their six AFC West games, including a sweep of the Denver Broncos, and also pick up wins against Jacksonville, Tennessee, Houston, New Orleans, Seattle, Arizona, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. That gets them to 12 wins, and at least another second-place showing in the AFC West.
Getting to 12-wins will also lock them into the Wild Card, and while they lost in that round last year, they finally get a playoff win this winter. They may lose in the Divisional Round, or maybe even the AFC title game, but overall, it is a big step forward for the Raiders franchise, as they show the future is bright in Las Vegas.