At the beginning of each NFL season, most teams have a chance to be competitive and make a run towards the playoffs. It might be difficult, however, to make the case that the Oakland Raiders will have a successful 2013 campaign.
According to Super Bowl odds, only the Jacksonville Jaguars have a worse chance of winning the title this year. The Raiders are expected to, once again, finish at the bottom of the AFC West, and that is reflected in the Week 1 betting lines.
At most Las Vegas casinos, the Raiders are the biggest underdogs of the opening week. In their visit to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, the point spread is 9.5. The line has moved in the past few days after the Colts opened up as seven-point favorites.
The biggest reason for Oakland’s low expectations may be their quarterback situation. After trading Carson Palmer in the offseason, the team was left without an experienced starter at the position. They acquired career backup Matt Flynn, who appeared to be the frontrunner to land the starting gig. However, his struggles in the preseason allowed Terrelle Pryor to become the No.1 signal caller.
Pryor may have won the job, but there isn’t much evidence that he can be a serviceable quarterback. Mike Silver of NFL.com reports that “there’s a lot of skepticism” in the Raiders organization over the decision to start Pryor. He’s only played in three career games, completing 14-of-30 pass attempts. He was able to make some plays with his legs in the preseason, but really struggled throwing the ball in a few games. In three of Oakland’s four exhibition contests, the third-year player failed to register a passer rating over 50.
The Colts, meanwhile, are one of the up-and-coming teams in the NFL. In his rookie season, Andrew Luck led Indianapolis to the playoffs and an 11-win season. In 2013, Luck is expected to take the next step and become one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
Indianapolis made some key additions in the offseason. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw, offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, and former Raiders wide out Darrius Heyward-Bey are expected to play important roles this season.
Indianapolis came on as one of the most surprising teams of 2012. They went 11-5 against the spread, including 7-1 at home. Oakland wasn’t as successful, going 5-11 against the spread.
Betting Odds: Indianapolis-9.5, 47
Early Prediction: It’s hard to have any faith in Pryor, who struggled at times against second and third-string defenses in the preseason. After having added Bradshaw in the backfield, the Colts have surrounded Luck with several good playmakers. The Raiders first game of 2013 may not give them much optimism for the rest of the year.
Predicted Final Score: Indianapolis 28, Oakland 13