Oakland Raiders (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (2-7 SU, 2-7 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date/Time: Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 1PM EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, California
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OAK -2/DET +2
Over/Under Total: 48
The Oakland Raiders make the long trip to the Motor City to face the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday. The Raiders have raised their profile this season, but after two straight losses and a home defeat to the Vikings on Sunday, theyd love to get back on the winning track this week against the two-win Lions. Detroit scored a nice win on Sunday, going into Lambeau and beating the Packerssomething they havent done since the Bush administration and were talking George H. not George W. It was only their second win of the season, but it makes us look at them a bit differently heading into this game.
With less then a half a quarter remaining and up 12-3, Detroit had to hold off a Green Bay rally, scoring a late TD and stopping a late 2-point conclusion when Green Bay answered late. The Lions also allowed the Packers to recover an onside kick, though the late FG missed. When a one-win team beats a 7-2 team, you cant get too picky. And with Detroit actually managing to win a close game that was up-for-grabs late, they showed progress after some heartbreaking defeats this season.
The urge on the part of a lot of people in betting circles is to look at Sundays game as a case of what Green Bay did wrong more than what Detroit did right. At the same time, Green Bay had no turnovers, were not particularly victimized by penalties, and Rodgers threw for 333 yards. And still, until halfway through the fourth, the Packers could muster just 3 points. The Detroit D was able to something they havent done for most of the seasoncome up with pivotal plays on defense.
Detroit has had trouble stopping the run all season, but they did a good job on Sunday, holding the Packers to just 47 yards on the ground. They even have a harder time running the ball, the last-ranked team in the league and averaging less than 70 yards a game. On Sunday, they had 45 rushing yards on 26 carries. In allowing no sacks, the Detroit O-line did well in pass-protection for a change, but they have struggled massively in opening up holes for the run-game. Rookie Ameer Abdullah hasnt been able to get off, though he did have some big kick returns on Sunday. Matthew Stafford didnt have an electric game, but got the ball into the hands of his receivers, big talent like Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, and Lance Moore, who caught a TD pass.
At the end of the day, it was the Detroit defense that helped win the game, holding Green Bay at bay, which was quite a feat on the road for a defense that is second-last in the league in terms of points allowed. They have secured only 4 interceptions all season, while the offense has had 13 balls picked off. So Sunday was quite unusual. Maybe they got some things worked out during the bye week.
Oakland is a team that has made marked improvements this season. But to lend some real credibility to their efforts in 2015, they would like to avoid a crippling midseason losing streak. At 4-3, things were looking up, but two straight defeats have them now looking for a positive development. In their first loss of the last two, they put up a good fight, narrowly losing to the Steelers on the road, before losing to a good Vikings team at home on Sunday. But even in defeat, we see a Raiders team that is playing with a lot more emotion and an enhanced fighting spirit this season.
With 21 TD throws and 6 picks, Carr has been a pleasant surprise in his second season. The Oakland identity on offense has been forming over the past few seasons, with young players and free agents coming to the forefront. RB Latavius Murray is 6th in the league in rushing yards. Carr works with a nice pair of receivers in rookie Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Andre Holmes has 4 touchdowns. Marcel Reese has 3. This offense has some teeth for the first time in many years. This group is a top ten unit and should continue to get better, though they will also experience growing pains from time to time, with the bulk of key guys being rookies and second-year guys.
In the past few weeks, weve seen a porous defense start to poison the Oakland efforts. They are brutal against the pass, with only one other team having given up more yards through the air than Oakland. They are giving up nearly 27 points per game, which ranks near the bottom of the league. Theyve given up 65 points in the past two games. But with a 2-2 record on the road, theyve shown they can win away from home, something this team has struggled with over recent seasons. There are some personnel issues, with Aldon Smith being suspended for a year, just as he was getting comfortable in this defense, with cornerback DJ Hayden listed as questionable. And center Rodney Hudsons (questionable) absence was really felt, with the rush up the middle being thick against the Vikes last week.
This is a tough road spot for Oakland. There seems to be something about facing teams out of conference in faraway locales that renders a team something less than it normally is. There are not many key guys on the team who have even played at Ford Field before. By the same token, this Oakland team as a whole is an entirely more-bankable unit that Detroit, who benefitted from facing an off-key Packers last week. Im going with the silver and black.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oakland Raiders minus 2 points.
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