The Las Vegas Raiders did a nice job adding talent to the roster this offseason, but was it enough in a loaded AFC heading into the 2021 season?
After an 8-8 finish to the 2020 NFL season, and once again missing out on the playoffs, it was back to the drawing board for the Las Vegas Raiders. While plenty of players played well last season, helping the team to the most wins they have had since 2016, it was obvious that changes were coming.
Between personnel and coaching staff, the Raiders revamped the organization, trading away most of their offensive line, and adding a ton of new faces via free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft. They attacked positions of need, bringing in talent like Yannick Ngakoue, John Brown, and Kenyan Drake via free agency, while trading up for an elite safety in the 2021 NFL Draft in Trevon Moehrig.
Overall, there is more talent heading to camp this year than there was last year, but will it be enough in a loaded AFC?
Raiders must bridge the gap in the AFC
While Las Vegas added talent, some other teams in the AFC got significantly better, even teams that actually made the playoffs last season. The Cleveland Browns are an early favorite to go deep in the AFC Playoffs, while Kansas City got better after going to two straight Super Bowls.
Tennessee added Julio Jones, the Los Angeles Chargers bolstered the roster around Justin Herbert, and the Pittsburgh Steelers should be improved as well. Pretty much every AFC team got better, including Jacksonville, who now has a solid head coach and an elite rookie coming in to play quarterback.
For the Raiders to actually punch their ticket for their first playoff appearance since 2016, they will have to hope that Derek Carr continues to play well, the offensive line gels, the wide receiver can step up, and the remade defense actually can get some stops.
Those are a lot of question marks.
In fact, the move for Ngakoue was seen as the worst in football by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, a take that we felt was way off. Las Vegas needed edge rusher help, and in Ngakoue, they got a player who fills one of the biggest holes on their roster heading into the 2021 campaign.
We will not know if the Raiders did enough until the games start, but one thing is for sure, the AFC is going to be loaded once again in 2021. The Miami Dolphins won ten games last season in only a 16-game slate and still missed the playoffs, which is a good indication that teams may need to win 11 or more just to get into the dance.