Oakland Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Pick

Oakland Raiders (1-3) +7, 47 O/U at New Orleans Saints (2-3) -7, 47
O/U, SuperDome, New Orleans, La., 1 PM Eastern, Sunday

by Badger of Predictem.com

The Oakland Raiders are set to play their first game under interim
head coach Tom Cable this Sunday when they travel to the Louisiana
Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints.

Raiders owner Al Davis finally pulled the trigger on a head coaching change rumored for weeks when he fired Lane Kiffin going into the
teams bye week last Tuesday. The Raiders were coming off of two
straight losses, the last one a 28-18 defeat to AFC West rival San
Diego, and Davis finally had enough of what he termed Kiffins
insubordination toward the franchise. Cable was immediately
promoted to the job that nobody in the NFL wants anymore these days.

The Saints come into the game Sunday with their own drama, albeit not nearly as intriguing as the soap opera in Oakland. The Saints defense was once again battered and beaten in their disheartening, 30-27,
loss to Minnesota on Monday Night Football. Vikings kicker Ryan
Longwell hit a 30-yard field goal with only 13 seconds left in the
game to send the Saints away with another backbreaking loss, another
in a long list of games the Saints should have won if their defense
could just stop anyone.

Oddsmakers opened the game with the Saints as 7.5-point home
favorites, and the number has held at most sportsbooks although it
has dropped to 7 at some shops. The opening total of
47 is holding steady, while the moneyline bet has the Saints as -300
favorites with the Raiders as +280 underdogs.

One of the interesting tidbits to come out of the Kiffin-firing press conference from Davis was the fact that Kiffin did NOT want the
Raiders to draft quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Russell has struggled
in his two years in the league, and his slow start to 2008 (just
54.55 comp. %, 4 TD, 1 INT) eventually sealed Kiffins fate.

The Raiders should get a boost in the running game this week, as both Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden have had a week to rest up their
bumps and bruises. It should help spark the running game that is
averaging 155 yards a game, the 3rd best total in the league.

On the other hand, the Saints have no problems at quarterback as Drew Brees continues to have a strong season. Even without two of his best
outside threats, Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey, Brees has thrown
for 300-plus yards and 4 touchdowns in the past two weeks. Brees has
been the victim of a lack of a running game (just 80.6 ypg 29th),
which has made him force throws and force the action to the tune of
two interceptions against the Vikings (six for the season). Colston
and Shockey could both be back by this week, as they are listed as
questionable on the injury report.

Oaklands defense has played well in spurts, but always seems to lack the killer instinct in crucial times. Although they are 17th overall
in total yards allowed (326 ypg), they allow too many big plays which
moves their points allowed average up to 21st in the league at 25.2
points per game. The bad thing is that the Raiders defense has been
unable to hold leads, giving up a 9-point lead against Buffalo and a
12-point lead versus the Chargers.

But even the Raiders defense looks stellar compared to the Saints. The Saints certainly aint much on defense, ranking 24th overall in
total yards allowed (351.6 ypg), 27th in passing yards allowed (244.6
ypg) and 26th in points allowed (26 ppg).

The Saints and the Raiders havent met on the field since the 2004 season, a 31-26 Saints win in Oakland as 3-point underdogs. They
havent met in the Superdome since 2000, a 31-22 Oakland win, so the
lack of recent history has a big effect on betting trends for this game.

Neither team is making bettors a lot of money this season, as New Orleans has a slightly better 3-2 ATS record than the Raiders 2-2 ATS
mark. The Saints have gone over the total in four of their five games
so far, with the fifth game being a push, while the Raiders have also
gone over the total in three of four.

In fact, the over has the strongest betting trend numbers to back it up. In addition to their 4-0-1 mark so far this season, the over is
also 13-3-1 in the Saints last 17 games overall and 10-1-1 in games
where they play on field turf stadiums like the Superdome.
Meanwhile the Raiders are 0-4 ATS in their last four games played on
field turf.

Badgers Pick: Until the Saints defense does anything remotely close
to playing NFL-caliber defense, I will continue to hammer the over on
their games until the number reaches the mid-50s. At 47, Im taking
the over.