The Deadspin 2020 NFL Previews, AFC West: The Home of the Champs and a New Football Town in Vegas

Jon Gruden and Derek Carr

Jon Gruden and Derek Carr
Image: Getty

COVID Response: DE Maxx Crosby and RB Rod Smith were placed on the COVID-19/reserve list in August. Head Coach Jon Grudentricked the team into believing he was hospitalized with the virus. In addition, three Raiders players decided to opt-out of the 2020 season: Defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga defensive back D.J. Killings, and linebacker Ukeme Eligwe all decided against returning for the season.

Outside The Lines: In June, tight end Jason Witten met with Las Vegas police officers and members of the community to talk about how to bridge the gap between police and communities of color. Raiders owner Mark Davis has changed his mind about players protesting and now supports the players using their voice. Other Raiders players took to social media to bring awareness to the fight for racial justice.

Oh, he’s here now? The Raiders drafted the speedy Henry Ruggs III out of Alabama to add an explosive weapon to their offense. They’ve also added WR Nelson Agholor to try to strengthen their passing game. LB Cory Littleton came over from the Rams to help stabilize the defense.

Where’d he go? Safety Karl Joseph is now with the Browns. Cornerback Daryl Worley is now on the Cowboys roster and Tahir Whitehead is continuing his career in Carolina.

Fans in the stands: No fans until further notice

What to expect: Expect the Raiders to be an improved offensive team in their new Las Vegas digs, with a healthy Derek Carr, a more experienced Josh Jacobs, and the addition of Ruggs III. They may be able to make a significant playoff push in their first season in Sin City. However, they still have too many holes that need to be addressed before they can contend with teams like the Chiefs. They need to upgrade their talent at linebacker, defensive line, and in the secondary in order to thwart some of these high-octane offenses in the AFC.

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