Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr relishes being considered an underdog in the AFC West.
"It's going to be fun," Carr said, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic. "No one thinks anything of us, and I think that's what makes it fun is you always have to put the ball down and play the football games."
The Raiders finished 10-7 last season, good enough for the team's first playoff berth since 2016. The team still lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round as the organization continues to search for its first postseason win since losing in the Super Bowl after the 2002 season.
There is reason for optimism in Las Vegas heading into 2022, the first season under new head coach Josh McDaniels. Carr returns after setting a career high with 4,804 passing yards, while he has an exciting new weapon in All-Pro wideout Davante Adams.
Chandler Jones and Bilal Nichols are among the upgrades to the defense.
The problem is the rest of the division remains one of the toughest in the NFL.
The Los Angeles Chargers added Khalil Mack, the Denver Broncos acquired Russell Wilson, and the Kansas City Chiefs still have Patrick Mahomes under center. According to DraftKings, the Raiders are the biggest long shot to win the division at +650 ($100 bet wins $650).
Carr is looking forward to the challenge:
"We've got a chip on our shoulder like always. And as Raiders, I think that’s how we should have it. And we’re excited to compete against the best. My buddy Khalil joined the Chargers. And the Broncos got better. The Chiefs got better. … It’s going to be fun playing against these teams, against some of the best quarterbacks in the game. And that’s what you look forward to. That’s what you want to sign up for."
The Raiders begin their regular season with a road game against the Chargers on Sept. 11.