Las Vegas Raiders: nfl FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Las Vegas Raiders may have moved more times than any franchise in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a storied history of success, personality, and star-power.
Born into the AFL in 1960, the Raiders spent their first twenty one seasons playing in Oakland. Now famous for its black and silver color scheme, the team actually started out play wearing gold stripes and numbers. When the team hired Al Davis to coach and run the team in 1963, he switched out the gold for silver. But the team’s emblem, an eyepatch-wearing pirate, has been in use since its inception.
Davis would last three years, and his replacement, John Rauch, was the first to lead the Raiders to the playoffs. But a bet on the Las Vegas Raiders to win the Super Bowl would not pay, as the team would lose Super Bowl II to Bart Starr, Vince Lombardi, and the Green Bay Packers, 33-14.
From there, the Las Vegas Raiders odds kept climbing… and the team ultimately kept disappointing. The Raiders lost three consecutive AFL championship games to eventual Super Bowl Champions – the Jets in 1968 and the Chiefs in 1969.
1969 was also the first year for legendary coach John Madden. Madden had been the team’s linebackers coach since ’67, and was promoted when Rauch departed for Buffalo. During Madden’s ten-year tenure, the Las Vegas Raiders odds were never better. A bet on the Las Vegas Raiders would’ve been a fabulous investment, as Madden would sport a ridiculous .731 winning percentage (including playoffs), good for second-best all-time (behind only the aforementioned Lombardi).
Madden’s teams were stacked with future Hall of Famers. HOFers C Jim Otto, G Gene Upshaw, and T Art Shell anchored an incredible offensive line, behind which QB Ken Stabler built his HOF resume. WR Fred Biletnikoff and CB Willie Brown also would mold HOF careers under Madden’s tutelage. The Las Vegas Raiders odds to win a title were high during the ‘70’s, as the team won five straight AFC West division titles. But a bet on the Las Vegas Raiders to win a championship wouldn’t pay until 1976. In ’72, Madden’s Raiders were on the wrong end of the Immaculate Reception. Then they lost three consecutive AFC championship games – one to Miami and two more playoffs games to Pittsburgh. In all three years, the team to oust the Raiders would go on to win the Super Bowl. In fact, from 1967-75, the Raiders were eliminated by the eventual champs seven times.
Finally, in 1976, Madden broke through. They defeated the hated Steelers in the AFC title game, then entered the Super Bowl as 4-point favorites over the Purple People Eaters and the Minnesota Vikings. A bet on the Las Vegas Raiders to win the game would pay, as the Raiders won, 32-14, with Biletnikoff as MVP.
Las Vegas would reach the AFC title game for the fifth consecutive year in 1977, only to lose to division rival Denver 20-17. Madden would retire from coaching and turn the reins over to his wide receivers coach, Tom Flores, a former Raiders quarterback. In 1980, GM and owner Al Davis traded Stabler to Houston, replacing him with former Patriots QB Jim Plunkett. In Plunkett’s first year as QB, he beat the Las Vegas Raiders odds and led the team to a wildcard berth, an AFC crown, and a Super Bowl title, becoming the first wild card team to win the big game. In all four playoff victories, a bet on the Las Vegas Raiders would’ve paid, even though they were underdogs in all four.
In 1982, Davis moved the team to Los Angeles. Flores and Plunkett would win another Super Bowl in 1983, this time with the help of newer faces. HOF RB Marcus Allen joined the team as the 10th overall pick in the 1982 draft. HOF DE Howie Long had been taken in the 2nd round a year earlier. Both the offense and the defense were ranked in the top five, and the result was a 38-9 thrashing of the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.
In 1987, the Raiders spent a seventh-round draft choice on Bo Jackson, who had been selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first overall in 1986 but refused to play for the team. Jackson was playing baseball for the Kansas City Royals at the time, and did not initially show an interest in playing football. However, Al Davis offered him a large contract, stipulating that Jackson could play baseball and then report to the Raiders when the MLB season was over.
Jackson became an instant sensation after running for 221 yards against the Seahawks in his rookie campaign. In seven games, Jackson posted a ridiculous 6.8 YPC. But in 1991, Jackson’s career was cut short, when he suffered a career ending hip injury in a playoff victory over Cincinnati. A bet on the Las Vegas Raiders to advance without their star RB would not pay, as they would go on to get blown out by Buffalo in the AFC title game.
Throughout the ‘90s, the Las Vegas Raiders odds for success were low, as the team struggled through mediocrity. The team would move back to Oakland in 1995, only to find the same lack of success. In 1998, new head coach Jon Gruden would give the team hope, leading them to two division titles in 2000 and 2001. But in 2002, Gruden would depart for Tampa Bay. His replacement, offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, would lead the team to the Super Bowl… only to lose to Gruden’s Buccaneers.
Since then, the Raiders have been mired in ineptitude. The Las Vegas Raiders odds plummeted, as the team has posted only one playoff appearance since Super Bowl XXXVII. While a move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season, combined with Gruden’s return, has at least made things interesting, it will take more than that to get the Raiders back on the winning track.