More than two months into the coronavirus pandemic, situations across the nation are stabilizing and all 50 states have been taking gradual steps to reopen businesses and ease restrictions.
Casinos in general and sportsbooks in particular are readying to reopen in Nevada June 4. The resumption of pro sports within the next month or so is appearing much more likely than it did back in March. Properties with sports betting mobile apps have resumed operations with several now allowing deposits to be made via drive-up or via online third party funding companies.
The Westgate SuperBook has been expanding its betting menu especially with its NFL offerings. Within the past few weeks, following the draft, a multitude of wagering options highlighted by Season Wins, playoff chances, sides and totals for the first two weeks of regular season games and selected Games of the Year have been offered.
Last week a set of props devoted entirely to the first season of the Las Vegas Raiders was released. Specifically, 20 season-long individual player props were posted followed a few days later by a special prop related to the first Raiders regular season game at the new Allegiant Stadium, scheduled for Monday, Sept. 21.
Three of the props involve QB Derek Carr, the presumed starter heading into the season. The Over/Under props involve total passing yards (3149.5, up from an opener of 3099.5), touchdown passes (17.5) and interceptions (8.5).
Those totals seem rather low for a 16-game schedule as they effectively represent an average of roughly 195 yards, 1.1 touchdowns and 0.5 interceptions evoking an initial reaction play the Over on all three.
But before acting upon that impulse, consider the Raiders signed Marcus Mariota as a backup to Carr with plenty of NFL experience as a starting QB, a position he held at the start of the 2019 season with Tennessee. Mariota never quite lived up to his billing as the Titans’ No. 1 draft choice in 2015 but still started 61 of the 63 regular season games in which he appeared, including the first six of 2019. After being injured in that sixth game, backup Ryan Tannehill took over and led the Titans to playoffs, effectively ending Mariota’s tenure with the Titans as he became a free agent after last season.
Their career stats are comparable with perhaps the most significant difference being Carr’s lower interception rate (2.4 percent vs. 1.9). Carr has appeared in 94 of a possible 96 regular season games, all starts, including all 32 games for coach Jon Gruden. He’s familiar with the system and would logically be the favorite to be the starter when the season starts. And he had a career high 100.6 QB rating last season.
His career per game averages are 242.5 yards, 1.5 touchdowns and 0.66 interceptions. In six seasons he’s never had fewer than 19 touchdown passes nor tossed more than 13 interceptions.
In addition to the presence of Mariota, injuries could prevent Carr from playing a full season. He’s missed only three games in his career due to injury. Two were in Oakland’s 2016 playoff season when Carr broke his leg in Game 15 of the regular season, causing him to miss the finale and the Wild Card loss in Houston. The other was a 2017 back injury that caused him to miss one game.
Carr was sacked 51 times in 2018, Gruden’s first season as coach. That total was nearly cut in half, to 29, last season with the emergence of rookie RB Josh Jacobs as a major contributing factor. With an upgraded receiving corps the 2020 total should more likely decrease than increase.
My thoughts are that Carr has proven himself a capable and durable NFL QB and my projections have him playing at least 12 games this season. In my opinion, it’s Carr’s job to lose and he’s got better talent surrounding him this season.
I’d look to playing the Over in all three props. If he plays exactly 12 games he’d need to average at least 263 yards, 1.5 touchdown passes and 0.7 interceptions per game.
But, and this is important, there’s no great hurry to make the plays. Let’s wait until we get closer to the season. The prop numbers may change but most news that could affect the prop results would be negative in that Carr could get injured or lose the starting job prior to the start of the season. If the job appears to be Carr’s throughout training camp there’will be time to get involved. The uncertainty will begin when the season kicks off.
Other members of the offense with individual props include RBs Jacobs and Lynn Bowden Jr, rookie WRs rookie Henry Ruggs III, free agent signee Nelson Agholor, Hunter Renfrow and Tyrell Williams and TE Darren Waller. Two defensive players also have props with DEs Maxx Crosby’s and Clelin Ferrell ‘s QB sacks and combined solo and assisted tackles.
Jeff Sherman of the SuperBook indicated that the early prop action has been sharp action on the Nelson Agholor props playing Total Receptions down from 37.5 to 35.5 and Total Yards down from 399.5 to 367.5.
Sherman said that most of the play on these props, thus far, has been by the sharps but he expects interest from the general public as the season approaches with a widening wagering menu with unique offerings.
Along those lines he notes there will be props offered for each of the Raiders’ 16 games much along the lines of what the SuperBook has been offering for Vegas Golden Knights games and for prime time NFL games.
Among the key stipulations are that the Raiders must play 16 games for action and that the player involved in a prop must play in at least one game. Only stats accumulated with the Raiders count (in the case of trades, etc). As is usually applicable parlays are not allowed. These props and any added season long props will be taken off the board prior to kickoff of the Raiders’ opening game.
Allegiant Stadium’s first touchdown has 20 options. Saints RB Alvin Kamara is the favorite at 5-1 with teammate WR Michael Thomas at 6-1. The Raiders’ lowest priced player is RB Jacobs at 8-1. Nine players from each team have individual odds.
Another option is the Field (8-1) which includes any player not listed and thus would cash for a defensive or special teams touchdown. The 20th option is priced at 300-1 and for good reason. That cashes if there is no touchdown scored in the opening game but is scored in any of their other home games.
Contemplating a potential schedule change the opening game must involve the Raiders and Saints and must be played by August 1 of next year (2021).
Expect more activity from the city's sportsbooks as we get closer to the start of training camp, preseason games and the sports landscape in general provides more clarity.