Oakland Raiders (1-6) at San Francisco 49ers (1-7)
Things have gone from bad to worse for the 49ers. Already without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season with a torn ACL, now backup CJ Beathard is dealing with a hand and wrist injury on his throwing arm. Beathard is still expected to play, but he barely practiced on a short week and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll be anywhere near 100% or if could get pulled mid-game for backup Nick Mullens, a second year undrafted free agent who has never thrown a pass in a regular season game. The 49ers will also be without key defensive players Reuben Foster and Jaquiski Tartt, who were very much missed as the 49ers blew a two score 4th quarter lead to the Cardinals last week.
The Raiders are not in good shape either, with a mediocre roster and all sorts of reported issues in their locker room, in their first year under new head coach Jon Gruden. They’re a little bit better of a team though and they have by far the better quarterback situation, which is important on a short week. It’s also worth noting that this is basically a home game for the Raiders too, as they play about an hour from the 49ers, so the 49ers shouldn’t get more than a point if anything for homefield advantage, even on a short week. I have this line calculated at about even. We’re not getting many points with the Raiders as 2.5 point underdogs though, so this is a pretty low confidence pick. It’s hard to get excited about backing either side in this one anyway, as this is two terrible teams playing on a short week.
Update: Beathard is active for this game, but Mullen will start as they feel he’s a better option than a less than 100% Beathard. That may be true, but the odds are heavily against Mullen performing well in this one. He’s just the 5th undrafted free agent in the past 30 years under the age of 24 to start at quarterback for a team. The previous 4 (Doug Johnson, Matt Moore, Jeff Tuel and Connor Shaw) had a combined 60.0 QB rating with a 2-5 record in 7 starts. It’ll be even more challenging for Mullen making his debut on a short week with limited first team reps. The Raiders still are not an appealing bet, even if the line movement from +2.5 to -1.5 is largely insignificant, but they are the safer bet for pick ’em purposes.
Oakland Raiders 23 San Francisco 49ers 20
Pick against the spread: Oakland -1.5