Are the Raiders contenders or pretenders in the 2021-22 NFL season?

Las Vegas Raiders v New York Giants
Las Vegas Raiders v New York Giants
James Brizuela

Now that the 2021 NFL season is at its midpoint, where do the Raiders stand? They are currently 5-3 and in the thick of the hunt for the playoffs. More so than that, they are currently tied for 1st place in the AFC West with the Chargers.

But this begs the question: Are the Raiders for-real contenders this season? It's the usual M.O. for the Raiders to come out and play like a championship-caliber team for much of the regular season, only to flounder out by the end of the season. However, this team does feel a bit different this time around.

How far can the Raiders go this season?

The Las Vegas Raiders have had as much bad luck as anyone could have. From former head coach Jon Gruden resigning amid some deep controversy, to Henry Ruggs III being let go as a result of vehicular manslaughter, to Damon Arnette being released due to a bizarre video.

We have signed free agent WR DeSean Jackson.More »

All of this would certainly have an impact on any team, but the Raiders have been holding strong. The loss to the New York Giants on Sunday showed that any team can have moments of blunder, where they lose to much worse teams, and any Sunday that is a possibility.

The Raiders, however, have beaten the Ravens, Steelers, Broncos, and Eagles. All of them are very competitive teams, so it's not as though the Raiders are inept at beating a good team.

Losses to the Bears and Chargers make a great deal more sense in the grand scheme of things, as they are also very competitive, especially the Chargers.

The Raiders have the firepower to have a great season, even with the loss of Henry Ruggs III.

Derek Carr has remained in the top five for passing yards the entire season, but his TD production could use a little help. That being said, Carr has Darren Waller, Zay Jones, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, and Josh Jacobs. It's not a bad set of guys that can produce on the field. They also recently signed veteran DeSean Jackson.

“Without blitzing, the Raiders get the most QB pressure in the NFL…that is the exact recipe to causing trouble for Kansas City”

Their defense is nothing to scoff at as well, with Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, Denzel Perryman, and Casey Hayward Jr. at their disposal, and this defense is all well put together.

The Raiders are a solid unit on both sides of the ball, even with lingering injuries and released players. They will continue to fight hard this season and should remain in the race for a playoff spot.

Apart from the WFT and the Colts, the Raiders have a tough schedule ahead of them. They play the Chiefs twice, Cincinnati, Dallas, Cleveland, Denver, and the Chargers. This final stretch will test their resolve, but the Raiders can stay in all these games.

The Raiders are contenders this season.

Edited by Windy Goodloe
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