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If you pay any attention to the NFL, then you know the Raiders are one of the most surprising and fun stories of the season so far. Despite the loss to the Chargers on Monday night, they're still playing better than anyone could have thought. Derek Carr is an early MVP candidate and Jon Gruden is bringing his usual fire and intensity to the sidelines. Football-wise, things are good in the city of Las Vegas at the moment.
And if you know anything about Las Vegas, you know that you can either have a really good time or a really bad time. For the Raiders, it’s all good right now and the city is behind the team. How could they not be? They look legit and for the first time in Gruden’s second era with the franchise they look like they have a real shot to make some noise in the AFC.
After a recent trip to the desert, it’s really wild how much of a hold the Raiders have on Sin City right now. You notice it immediately when you drive down the iconic Strip and see the massive Allegiant Stadium off to the west towering over the row of fancy hotels and casinos. From where I was staying at Mandalay Bay, you have an incredible look at the state of the art stadium. If we’re being real, does any stadium fit the demeanor of a franchise more? The swooping black dome makes you feel like you’re in a literal black hole, which is of course a trademark of the Raiders franchise from its days in Oakland. And man, does that place get loud and chaotic. You already know Raiders fans bring the energy every week, but with the team’s surprising start those fans are going to make it so you can hear them all the way in Los Angeles.
While we don’t know where this Raiders season will go, it’s very clear that the city of Las Vegas is fully behind the team and turning into a legit football town. Yes, I said it: Las Vegas is a football town. The buzz around the city is palpable. On previous trips to Vegas, I’d always see a ton of NFL jerseys from a variety of teams. On this trip, it was like 80/20 Raiders. I was almost shocked at this trend because I didn’t think the Raiders would take off in Vegas so soon. With the awkward split from Oakland and everything that came with the move, I wasn’t sure if there would be immediate buy-in. Even when I ventured over to the BetMGM Sportsbook at MGM Grand to place some wagers, the Raiders game was the main attraction from the crowd.
Alas, Vegas is all-in on the Raiders and I saw it first hand. You actually don’t have to venture far from the stadium to see how ready Vegas is for football, with a truly massive beer garden sitting right next to the Luxor and a quick walk to the stadium. Like, this place is decked out with VIP suites and a full DJ setup to go along with four massive projector screens to show the game. As a Browns fan, I’ve been to a lot of amazing tailgates, but the Raiders are doing it right in this sense. Bringing that Vegas feel of the VIP lifestyle and perfectly mixing it a football fan’s dream. And with sports gambling becoming more and more mainstream, what more could a fan ask for? Like mostly everywhere in Vegas, you can literally place bets at the beer garden. How epic is that? You can win (or lose) money on your favorite teams and then just go get some beer. Literally doesn’t get much better than that for a football fan.
Also, where else can go watch football and see Marhsawn Lynch DJ? The answer is nowhere and if you’ve ever seen Marshawn do anything, then you know you’re in for a treat when he’s involved.
Any football fan reading this knows we shouldn’t crown the Raiders too soon. These Gruden teams have been notorious for starting fast and then fading down the strech. However, this year does feel a bit different. With a packed Allegiant Stadium and Carr playing at such a high level, it doesn’t seem too soon for Raiders fans to get excited.