5 NFL teams who could shatter expectations in the 2020 season

NFL 2020. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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5. Las Vegas Raiders

It’s going to take some getting used to, but the Raiders are now playing in Las Vegas, and their first season in their new home could end up being better than expected. Since bringing Jon Gruden back as their head coach in 2018, the Raiders have been rebuilding and have shown signs of improving.

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Gruden was absolutely destroyed for coming in and trading away defensive end Khalil Mack, who was once named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. In exchange for Mack, the Raiders landed two first-round picks. They added another when they traded Amari Cooper midseason that same year.

The result was a tough 2018 campaign in which they won just four games. However, they cashed in on three first-round picks in 2019 and that helped them improve from 4-12 to 7-9. They then had two more opening-round picks in 2020 and landed wide receiver Henry Ruggs and cornerback Damon Arnette. Las Vegas then added Lynn Bowden, Jr. and Bryan Edwards which helped them add talent for quarterback Derek Carr — and he needed the help around him.

In addition to those draft picks, Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock made a few underrated moves in free agency. They signed Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath to help fill out their safety depth chart — and Heath is also a stud on special teams. There was also the signing of Maliek Collins who is a grossly underrated defensive tackle and cornerback Prince Amukamara.

Of course, Gruden also added his obligatory over the hill veteran as he brought in Jason Witten as well (making it three former Cowboys to join Vegas). Witten has been a force in the NFL but is past his prime and at this point, it feels more like a progress stopper for Darren Waller and second-year player Foster Moreau. Having said that, if adding one aged veteran was their worst move, that means it was a solid offseason which could lead to them exceeding expectations.