Could Vegas move cost the Raiders a Superbowl?4 min read

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Alex Brockhurst

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So, could a Vegas move cost the Raiders a Superbowl? In all likelihood, no.

But there is a chance…

So we, as bored football fans facing a long and uneventful off-season, have every right to speculate wildly. Could Mark Davis’s greed cost the Raiders their first Lombardi in more than 30 years? How would that even work? Well it all hinges on two of the off-season’s most interesting storylines – Marshawn Lynch’s unretirement and the Oakland Raiders relocation to Las Vegas.

Last season Oakland were one of the top contenders in the AFC. A strong 12-3 season was abruptly sunk when Derek Carr’s fibula broke against the Colts in week 16. The Silver and Black proceeded to limp through a 24-6 loss to the Broncos a week later before being dumped out of the playoffs by Brock Osweiler. Realistically, unless you’re very lucky (the 2001 Patriots spring to mind), losing your QB1 will nix most Superbowl runs. Having said that, losing to a quarterback who is on the verge of being cut by the Cleveland Browns hints at a roster with more than a few holes, particularly on Defence.

Could Vegas move cost the Raiders a Superbowl? Soapbox 2

What does this have to do with Lynch, or Vegas for that matter? Stick with it, we’re getting there…

The problem for the Raiders’ 2017 Lombardi hopes is that it is very difficult to win the Big One in the modern era without an elite D. They won’t build one through free agency either; they’ve already swung and missed on this year’s marquee defenders. Oakland must, therefore, build their Defence in the draft, which is precisely what the pundits expect. Of the 15 experts on the Raider’s mock draft tracker, 14 have them selecting a defender at pick 24. This is not surprising.

What is interesting is the lone dissenter – Sporting News’s Eric Galko – has them taking FSU running back Dalvin Cook. The pick highlights another concern with Oakland’s thin running back room. Thin because Latavius Murray now resides in Minnesota and Oakland’s remaining runners are either rookies or posted negative yardage (looking at you, Taiwan Jones). Lynch, a proven vet who – many argue – retired with gas in the tank, would be a perfect fit. Compare the Raiders’ 2nd ranked offensive line (per Pro Football Focus) to the 30th ranked Seahawks line he ran behind in 2015 (or the 19th ranked unit that he might have carried to a Superbowl in 2014) and consider the damage the 2017 vintage Beastmode could do. Possibly enough to bring a 4th title to the Coliseum?

This Silver and Black fever dream is so tantalisingly close for fans but a 31-1 league vote in favour of a move to Las Vegas, already a slap in the face to Raider Nation, might steal even this small compensation from the Black Hole. Other writers will say the vote is irrelevant to Beastmode’s decision. They will tell you that the move will happen in 2018 at the earliest. They will say Lynch will be gone by then anyway and he only wants to play for the club he supported as a boy. I disagree.

Could Vegas move cost the Raiders a Superbowl? Soapbox 3

Marshawn Lynch and the Las Vegas Raiders

Playing for the team you grew up with is a dream of every sports fan, a selfish wish that very few get to experience  No one could call Marshawn selfish. Stubborn and unpredictable, yes. Loyal to a fault? Absolutely. There’s the kicker: Beastmode suiting up for the Raiders is driven by his love for his hometown. Lynch’s work with Oakland’s youth is well publicised (despite his hatred of publicity) and, though he has played his entire career in Buffalo or Seattle, he still lives in the bay area. Why then would he want to play for a franchise (and an owner) that just betrayed the city he loves? For me that doesn’t sound like the same man that feigned exhaustion at USC to give his backup a chance to shine; the man who hasn’t spent a penny of his NFL salary.

Without Lynch can the Raiders overcome a Patriots squad which is only growing stronger? Can they even win the division? The Chiefs are a consistently strong unit under Andy Reid and John Elway has spent big to fix the Broncos leaky offensive line. This is the NFL – anything is possible. For all we know they’ll go all the way behind Connor Cook. But, however you view it, you can’t argue that Mark Davis has improved his team’s chances of winning it all by chasing dollars to Sin City.

What are your views on the Raider’s move to Las Vegas?

Got an opinion on how the Las Vegas move will affect the Raiders? How do you think it would benefit them if Marshawn Lynch came on-board? How do you feel about the Raider’s move? Let us know in the comment box below.

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