Raiders worthy of Super Bowl hype, with or without Lynch

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

April 16, 2017 05:27 AM
Marshawn Lynch, a five-time Pro Bowl running back, appears ready to come out of retirement and join the Oakland Raiders.
© USA Today Sports Images

In desperate need of a public relations boost in Oakland, the Raiders might have found one in Marshawn Lynch. The mercurial running back is ready to come out of a brief retirement and return to his hometown team.

Lynch’s addition would increase Super Bowl hype, even if he does not move the needle on the Raiders’ odds.

Almost three weeks after NFL owners approved the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas, the team has become a hot ticket here.

“I’ve got by far the most tickets on the Raiders,” South Point sports book director Chris Andrews said, in reference to the Super Bowl futures board. “No doubt about it, it’s because of Las Vegas.”

But in anticipation of Oakland dealing for Lynch, a five-time Pro Bowler, Andrews said he’s not adjusting the odds. The Raiders are 15-1 to win the Super Bowl and 15-2 to win the AFC, with or without Lynch.

A former high school standout in Oakland and college star at California, Lynch retired after an injury-shortened 2015 season with Seattle. Now he’s taking a page from the Floyd Mayweather Jr. playbook and returning from retirement.

The deal is not done, yet according to numerous reports, Lynch is close to agreeing to terms with the Raiders, who are close to working out a trade with the Seahawks. Seattle retains the rights to Lynch but appears willing to trade him.

Lynch was limited to seven games in 2015, when he needed sports hernia surgery, and he turns 31 on April 22.

“I think Marshawn is going to be OK, but he sat out a year and he could have lost a step,” Andrews said. “I need to see something.”

The Raiders need help at running back after losing Latavius Murray to the Minnesota Vikings. Murray was the team’s leading rusher last season with 788 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Lynch would be stepping into an ideal situation. Behind one of the NFL’s strongest offensive lines, Oakland ranked sixth in the league in rushing. Derek Carr matured into a star, passing for 28 touchdowns while posting the league’s eighth-best passer rating (96.7). Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are elite wide receivers.

The Raiders improved from 7-9 in 2015 to 12-4 and a playoff team. Lynch could help prevent the Raiders from taking a step back in 2017 (https://www.vsin.com/are-raiders-for-real-or-due-to-regress/).

His arrival would be hyped by fans and the media, but oddsmakers do not overrate running backs in this pass-oriented era of the NFL.

Andrews said Lynch might be worth a half-point to the Raiders’ power rating. He would not influence their Super Bowl odds or regular-season win total, at least from the oddsmakers’ perspective.

The most valuable running backs in the league in relation to point spreads and odds, Andrews said, are Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott and Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell.

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