Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals: 2018 Week 11 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (1-8) at Arizona Cardinals (2-7)

Both of these teams have had horrendous seasons, as the Raiders rank 30th in first down rate differential at -5.54%, while the Cardinals rank dead last at -7.51%. The Cardinals are trending up a little bit, as their offense has been improved since switching to Byron Leftwich as offensive coordinator, while the Raiders are trending down, due to all of their personnel losses (especially at wide receiver) and locker room problems, but this line still seems a little high at Arizona -5.5, as I have these two teams about even.

The Raiders are also in a much better spot, as favorites rarely play well before being big underdogs, which the Cardinals will be in Los Angeles against the Chargers next week. Favorites are just 24-42 ATS since 2008 before being double digit underdogs. The Raiders have serious locker room issues and might not give much effort in this meaningless non-conference game, so I wouldn’t recommend betting them, but the Cardinals should not be favored by this many points against anyone and they too may not give their best effort with a much tougher game on deck.

Arizona Cardinals 20 Oakland Raiders 17

Pick against the spread: Oakland +5.5

Confidence: Low

Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders: 2018 Week 10 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-7)

This line shifted from Chargers -7.5 on the early line last week up to Chargers -10 this week. Typically I like going against significant week-to-week line movements like that, as they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play, but this one is justified. The Chargers one of the better teams in the league, ranking 4th in first down rate differential at +4.70% and 8th in point differential at +40, while the Raiders are quite the opposite. Outside of the Bills, they may be the worst team in the entire league. The Chargers also typically play well on the road, going 32-20-3 ATS since 2012 away from home, as they rarely have much of a homefield advantage anyway and are used to playing in front of hostile crowds.

The Chargers are also in a great spot this week, with only another relatively easy divisional game on deck, at home against the Broncos, a game in which they are favored by 7 on the early line. Favorites of 6+ tend to take care of business with another easy game on deck, going 86-52 ATS since 2014 before being favorites of 6+ again. The Raiders will probably bring their best effort for this game, with a long week to prepare against a hated divisional rival, but the Chargers could still easily win this game by double digits. This is too many points for the Chargers to be worth betting, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Los Angeles Chargers 31 Oakland Raiders 19

Pick against the spread: LA Chargers -10

Confidence: None

Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers: 2018 Week 9 NFL Pick

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

Confidence: None

Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders: 2018 Week 8 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (2-5) at Oakland Raiders (1-5)

This game had the most significant line movement of the week, as the Raiders went from 1.5 point favorites on the early line last week to 3 point home underdogs this week. The Raiders didn’t even have a game last week, but the Colts looked impressive in a 37-5 win over the Bills and are arguably as healthy as they’ve been all season. They got left tackle Anthony Castonzo back three weeks ago, running back Marlon Mack back two weeks ago, and wide receiver TY Hilton and defensive tackle Margus Hunt back last week, and now they get defensive tackle Denico Autry and tight end Jack Doyle back. They remain without safety Clayton Geathers and wide receiver Ryan Grant, while defensive tackle Jihad Ward and safety Malik Hooker will join them on the sidelines this week, but they are still in much better shape injury wise than they were a few weeks ago.

That line movement was also partially because of the Amari Cooper trade, with the Raiders sending Cooper to the Cowboys for a first round pick. It’s not so much about what they lose with Cooper on the field, as Cooper has been very inconsistent for the last year and a half, but the locker room situation in Oakland does not sound good, with multiple players coming forward and anonymously criticizing the coaching staff and management for not being upfront with them about the trades of star players, with one player saying that it feels like anyone could be traded in the next week. That doesn’t sound like an environment that is going to get the best results on the football field, especially when their talent level is mediocre to begin with. We’re not getting good line value with the Colts as field goal favorites on the road, but the Raiders might be unbettable this week.

Indianapolis Colts 31 Oakland Raiders 27

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis -3

Confidence: None

Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (1-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (2-3) in London

This game features the Raiders and Seahawks in London. Typically in neutral site games, the rule of thumb is that the better team typically covers, as favorites are 21-9 ATS all-time. That makes sense, as better teams are more likely to be better prepared for a weird situation like this. The crowd is also likely to be slanted towards the better team. The Seahawks are favored in this one, but only by 2.5 points. While favorites of 4+ are 13-1 ATS in neutral site games, favorites of less than 4 are just 8-8 ATS.

The Seahawks also are not a good team right now, thanks to several personnel major losses over the past couple seasons and several major injuries, including stud safety Earl Thomas and every down linebacker KJ Wright. They’re better than the Raiders, but only by default, as the Raiders are one of the worst teams in the league, especially with talented left guard Kelechi Osemele out for the second straight game. I’m taking the Seahawks because they are the slightly better team and only really need to win to cover, but this is a no confidence bet.

Seattle Seahawks 23 Oakland Raiders 20

Pick against the spread: Seattle -2.5

Confidence: None

Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers: 2018 Week 5 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (1-3) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)

The Chargers are 2-2, but they’ve been a pretty underwhelming team. Their two wins have come against the Bills and 49ers, two of the worst teams in the league, and they won by just 2 points against the 49ers. In their other two games, they’ve lost by double digits to the Chiefs and Rams. Their offense has been great, ranking 5th in first down rate at 41.94%, but their defense has not nearly been the same without the injured Joey Bosa, ranking 28th in first down rate allowed at 41.87%.

The Chargers also don’t have much homefield advantage, as they barely have any fans in Los Angeles. With the Raiders, a former Los Angeles team, in town this week, I expect the crowd to be primarily Raiders fans. The Raiders are not a good team either and they’re in a tough spot with a trip to London on deck. Teams are 15-23 ATS all-time before a trip to London. They should be able to keep it within the 5, but I can’t take them with any confidence.

Los Angeles Chargers 31 Oakland Raiders 27

Pick against the spread: Oakland +5

Confidence: None

Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders: 2018 Week 4 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (1-1-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-3)

I’m torn on this one. On one hand, rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield looked like an upgrade on underwhelming veteran Tyrod Taylor in his debut and the insertion of him into the starting lineup could take a team with a capable supporting cast to the next level. If that’s the case, this line shouldn’t be Oakland -3, which suggests these two teams are about even. The Browns have easily the better supporting cast and could be about equal at quarterback if Mayfield continues playing well.

Of course, we’ve only seen Mayfield for about a half, so it’s tough to be confident in him as starter yet. On top of that, the Browns could be a little flat this week, against an 0-3 team, coming off the excitement of their first win in over a year. They might get a little bit ahead of themselves and have a disappointing performance against a team that has held the halftime lead in all 3 of their losses and that will be desperate for their first win. They also could get caught looking forward to a divisional clash with the Ravens next week. If the Browns aren’t fully focused and the Raiders can finally close, they could easily win this game, so I can’t take the Browns with any confidence, but they’re the pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Oakland Raiders 26 Cleveland Browns 24

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +3

Confidence: None