Oakland Raiders (4-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)
The Raiders were one of my underrated teams coming into the season but, despite a 4-2 start, I’ve been very disappointed with them. Their record is misleading, as their first 5 games were all decided by a touchdown or fewer (with 3 of them decided by 3 points or fewer). The only game they’ve played that’s been decisive either way was last week’s crushing 26-10 home loss to divisional rival Kansas City. They also rank 27th in first down percentage differential, thanks primarily to a defense that ranks 29th in first down percentage allowed.
Their offense, which ranks 9th in first down percentage, might actually be exceeding my expectations a little bit, but their defense has been horrendous, as they have not played up to their talent level at all. That could still happen going forward, as they are, on paper, one of the more complete teams in the NFL, with strong talent on both sides of the ball, but it’s far from a guarantee at this point. A week ago, I would have been all over Oakland as underdogs of any amount of points in Jacksonville, but I’m less confident in them now, as 1 point road underdogs.
I am still taking Oakland though and it’s not because, on paper, they have a significant talent advantage. They’re also in a much better spot than the Jaguars, who have to turn around and play division rival Tennessee on Thursday Night next week. Favorites are just 50-77 ATS before Thursday Night Football since 2008. The Raiders, meanwhile, go to Tampa Bay next week to take on a Buccaneers team that isn’t that good, so they don’t have any upcoming distractions. On top of that, the Raiders have been much better on the road (13-6 ATS) than at home (6-12 ATS) over the past few years, dating back to 2014. I’m still putting money on the Raiders, but this would have been a higher confidence pick a week ago.
Oakland Raiders 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 20 Upset Pick +100
Pick against the spread: Oakland +1