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The Las Vegas Raiders are in for a very interesting year, the fourth of the Jon Gruden era (part two). Gruden is 19-29 in his three years with the Raiders, with his best season coming at 8-8 in 2020 -- a year Vegas started 7-5 then lost three straight to fall out of the AFC playoff race. 

Derek Carr is back after posting a career-high 101.4 passer rating while Josh Jacobs is coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season and Darren Waller is back after recording consecutive 1,100-yard receiving seasons. The Raiders have talent on the offensive side of the ball, but rebuilt their offensive line after trading Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson this offseason, drafting Alex Leatherwood in the first round and having Nick Martin and Andre Jones battle for the starting center job.

The Raiders needed to improve the league's third-worst defense in points allowed and turnovers committed (not forgetting the NFL's worst fourth down defense). Yannick Ngakoue was added to bolster the pass rush while Casey Hayward and Karl Joseph were the marquee signings to improve the secondary. Trevon Moehrig and Malcolm Koonce were also selected on day two of the draft to improve the defense, but were the offseason additions enough to get the Raiders into the playoffs in a tough AFC West? 

Vegas has talent, yet hasn't been able to put everything together in a full season (perhaps the 17th game will help). We'll take a look at the Raiders' schedule and give a game-by-game prediction for one of the most unpredictable teams in the league. The Raiders over/under win total is 7. 

(Over/Under win totals for every opponent courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)

Need a quick betting primer on your favorite NFL team for the 2021 season? Here are links to schedule breakdowns for all 32 clubs.

Week 1 vs. Baltimore Ravens

Line: Raiders +4
Opponent win total: O/U 10.5

The "Monday Night Football" opener with fans in Vegas for the first time will be a sight to behold. The Raiders are going to make this tough for the Ravens, but Lamar Jackson wills the Ravens to victory. 

Prediction: Raiders lose
Projected record: 0-1

Week 2 at Pittsburgh Steelers

Opponent win total: O/U 8.5

Back-to-back AFC North foes to open the schedule is a brutal draw for the Raiders, especially since the Week 2 showdown is in Pittsburgh. Henry Ruggs III has a big day as Vegas gets its first win of the year. 

Prediction: Raiders win
Projected record: 1-1

Week 3 vs. Miami Dolphins

Opponent win total: O/U 9.5

A rematch of the epic Week 16 showdown is on tap for Vegas (this was the game where Ryan Fitzpatrick had the incredible no-look throw to Mack Hollins with under 20 seconds to play that paved the way for the Dolphins' walk-off field goal for the win). Carr had a good game against Miami's defense in last year's meeting and he'll manage the Raiders to a revenge win. 

Prediction: Raiders win
Projected record: 2-1

Week 4 at Los Angeles Chargers

Opponent win total: O/U 9

Vegas' secondary will be tested against Justin Herbert and the Chargers' explosive passing attack. Herbert threw for four touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Raiders last year and is confident going up against them. The Raiders pass rush needs to be great to have a chance. 

Prediction: Raiders lose
Projected record: 2-2

Week 5 vs. Chicago Bears

Opponent win total: O/U 7.5

This game will be a toss-up for the Raiders as Khalil Mack makes his return to the franchise that drafted him (even though Mack played in Oakland, not Vegas). If Andy Dalton starts, Raiders win. If Justin Fields starts, the Bears have a better chance at victory. 

Prediction: Raiders win
Projected record: 3-2 

Week 6 at Denver Broncos

Opponent win total: O/U 8.5

The Raiders just seem to match up well against the Broncos, mainly because Drew Lock has struggled against their pass rush. Lock or Teddy Bridgewater won't matter in this one. 

Prediction: Raiders win
Projected record: 4-2

Week 7 vs. Philadelphia Eagles  

Opponent win total: O/U 6.5

This will be a letdown game for the Raiders, as Jalen Hurts and the Eagles' offense put up points against this secondary. Vegas will score a bunch too as this will be a shootout, but Philadelphia's defense gets a crucial stop on Vegas' final possession. 

Prediction: Raiders lose
Projected record: 4-3

Week 9 at New York Giants

Opponent win total: O/U 7

The Raiders will continue to prove why they're so helter skelter under Gruden, traveling east to New York and having a strong defensive performance on the way to victory. Jacobs and Kenyan Drake will have a big day on the ground. 

Prediction: Raiders win
Projected record: 5-3

Week 10 vs. Kansas City Chiefs 

Opponent win total: O/U 12.5

The Raiders gave the Chiefs two of the most thrilling challenges in the league last year. Part of Kansas City's issue with Vegas was that Vegas' pass rush dominated the Chiefs defensive line -- a sign of things to come for Kansas City. That won't be a problem for the Chiefs this year. 

Prediction: Raiders lose
Projected record: 5-4

Week 11 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Opponent win total: O/U 6.5

Joe Burrow and the Bengals' passing game will be lighting it up against this secondary. However, the Raiders' "bend but don't break" defense will get two interceptions out of Burrow and find a way to pull off a victory. That second-round pick used on Moehrig will pay dividends. 

Prediction: Raiders win 
Projected record: 6-4

Week 12 at Dallas Cowboys 

Opponent win total: O/U 9.5

A short week on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys will be a daunting task for Vegas, especially against Dak Prescott and that passing attack. The Raiders secondary won't be as fortunate on short rest. 

Prediction: Raiders lose
Projected record: 6-5

Week 13 vs. Washington Football Team

Opponent win total: O/U 8.5

Washington has one of the most devastating defenses in the NFL and Vegas is fortunate to get the Football Team on 10 days rest. The Raiders offensive line will struggle against Chase Young and Montez Sweat as Vegas fans will be wondering if the free fall is coming.  

Prediction: Raiders lose
Projected record: 6-6

Week 14 at Kansas City Chiefs 

Opponent win total: O/U 12.5

Losing two in a row against the NFC East isn't ideal. Neither is playing Kansas City to get out of a losing streak. The Raiders scored 30 points against the Chiefs, but that's not enough to beat Mahomes and company. 

Prediction: Raiders lose
Projected record: 6-7

Week 15 at Cleveland Browns

Opponent win total: O/U 10.5

This is a rematch of the Raiders' surprising 16-6 win last year in Cleveland, so they'll be confident heading into this one. The weather should be better this time around, but this is December -- in Cleveland. Anything can happen.

Prediction: Raiders win
Projected record: 7-7

Week 16 vs. Denver Broncos

Opponent win total: O/U 8.5

The Broncos have a talented defense and will get after Carr with the Raiders offensive line a huge question mark. Vegas will make sure an upset doesn't happen as the Raiders finally get some momentum back. 

Prediction: Raiders win
Projected record: 8-7

Week 17 at Indianapolis Colts 

Opponent win total: O/U 10

The Raiders need this game if they are going to make the playoffs in the AFC. Indianapolis rushed for over 200 yards off Vegas last year and will be poised to accomplish the task again with an even better offensive line this time. Heartbreak for Vegas incoming. 

Prediction: Raiders lose
Projected record: 8-8

Week 18 vs. Los Angeles Chargers 

Opponent win total: O/U 9

The Raiders have the longest of odds to make the playoffs after their Week 17 loss to the Colts. Not only are they playing for a potential playoff spot, but an over .500 record for the first time since 2016. Here's the issue -- the Chargers still have a chance at a playoff spot too. Gruden will -- once again -- be under the microscope after a disappointing finish. 

Prediction: Raiders lose
Projected record: 8-9

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