When the 2021 NFL schedule came out in May, the Raiders were dealt a brutal opening slate with their first three games coming against the Ravens, Steelers and Dolphins. On paper, that part of the schedule seemed like a nightmare with all three of those teams winning 10 or more games last year (The Ravens went 11-5, the Steelers went 12-4 and the Dolphins finished 10-6).
Despite the long odds -- the Raiders were only favored to win in one of the three games -- Las Vegas still came out on top all three times, which allowed them to make NFL history. The three wins marks the first time ever that a team has started 3-0 with each of their wins coming against a team that won 10 or more games the previous year.
Teams have opened the season with three straight wins against playoff teams from the prior year -- the Rams just accomplished that feat this season -- but no team had ever done what the Raiders just did.
A big reason the Raiders have been able to get off to such a hot start is because of Derek Carr, who leads the NFL in passing yards through three weeks with 1,203 yards. That's an incredible average of more than 400 yards per game, and if that sounds high, that's because it is. That number represents the fourth-highest passing total in NFL history through three games, trailing only Tom Brady (1,327 in 2011 with the Patriots), Ryan Fitzpatrick (1,230 in 2018 with the Buccaneers) and Kurt Warner (1,221 in 2000 with the Rams).
The Raiders have also made a habit of winning close games. Two of their three wins have come in overtime, making them just the fourth team in NFL history that has won multiple overtime games through the first three weeks of the season.
Here's a look at how the other three teams finished the year:
As you can see, all three of those teams made the playoffs, which would be a solid achievement for a Raiders team that has only been to the postseason one time since 2003.
This season marks the 13th time that the Raiders have started 3-0 and the first time since 2002. If the previous 12 instances are any indication, then the Raiders should be in for a successful season.
Here's a look at how look at how those 3-0 seasons ended:
- They've gone to the playoffs 11 of the 12 times that they've started 3-0.
- In nine of those 12 seasons, they made it all the way to the AFC title game.
- Four of the 12 3-0 seasons ended with a trip to the Super Bowl, including two years where the Raiders won it all.
Basically, history is favoring the Raiders right now, which is a good thing, because the football gods haven't been very kind to this team over the past 18 years.
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