Oakland Raiders vs. San Francisco 49ers Pick
Oakland Raiders (1-6 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (1-7 SU, 2-6 ATS)
NFL Week 9
Date/Time: Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 8:20PM EDT
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
By: Loot Levinson, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OAK +3.5/SF -3.5
Over/Under Total: 47
The Oakland Raiders make the mini-road trip to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football. Both teams faded late last week to tack on another loss. The Raiders blew a late tie and fell at home to the Colts, 42-28. They are now 1-6 and looking for something good on the heels of a bunch of losses and bad press. The Niners are 1-7, coming off their sixth loss in a row on Sunday, blowing a late lead and falling to the Cardinals, 18-15. Which team can get out of the dumps this week?
I like the Raiders to cover the spread this week against the Niners. Most sportsbooks are offering -3.5 or higher. Let’s face it, neither team can be feeling that great. It’s hard to remember now, but this season opened with hope for both squads. The 49ers can at least point to their QB being lost for the season and a bunch of injuries as a cause for their woes. With Oakland, the formula has just fallen flat, while personnel moves suggesting a team in transition and building for the future. Nevertheless, someone has to cover, as both teams are a miserable 4-11 combined ATS. This week, I’ll take Oakland and the points.
While it’s a simple takeaway, Oakland has a better offense, while San Francisco is better on defense. But their strengths and weaknesses match up strangely. Oakland’s defense is bad. However good they are in the secondary is merely a result of how poor the run-defense is. It’s the worst in the league. So far this season, running backs like Marlon Mack, Nick Chubb, and Philip Lindsay have gone over 100 yards against this group, so it’s not outside the realm that San Francisco running backs Matt Breida and Alfred Morris can do damage.
Still, despite the recent bad press, Derek Carr is in fact an NFL starter. He is of that caliber. Getting rid of Amari Cooper and Marshawn Lynch being out of commission leaves them thin on that side of the ball. But this is a league where it’s hard to thrive without a good quarterback and without Garoppolo, San Fran is reduced to trying to make it work with CJ Beathard. And that’s a lot to ask, particularly with no real difference-makers around him. Marquise Goodwin and TE George Kittle are growing forces aerially and Breida can do damage, but even against the dicey Oakland defense, they are hardly foolproof.
Who is in Worse Shape?
On a mental level, it’s hard to say. When all playoff hopes are dashed before the halfway point of the season arrives, it’s a difficult position in which to be. Oakland might have some better pieces in place, but there’s a sense that their overall spirit is unraveling. At first, they were gung-ho with Gruden back in the fold. Now, it’s as if he’s auditioning for who will be part of his rebuild. The focus is on the future more than the present. And that might be true with the 49ers, as well, but with them, the excuse of injuries might help them in a backwards kind of way. While it has rendered them a diminished version of what they were supposed to be, this is in fact their team. A lot of these guys will still be there.
The San Francisco defense certainly has its issues. We saw that just last week when it was on their dime where Arizona rookie quarterback Josh Rosen showed the first signs that he’s a real prospect—throwing a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to beat the 49ers. Still, they’re on the rise and should be getting better. Oakland has a pretty good quarterback and some nice weapons like Jared Cook and Doug Martin, who had 72 yards filling in for Lynch for the first game. But with Richard Sherman back, blossoming youngsters like DE Solomon Thomas, S Jaquiski Tartt (questionable), LB Rueben Foster (questionable), and others, the 49ers’ defense can do damage. It just seems whenever they are getting healthy and gaining continuity, more injuries occur. And that’s an issue that has really plagued the Niners this season.
But while the Oakland defense looked ragged against the Colts, the 49ers don’t bring that kind of firepower to the table. Even when Garoppolo was in there, it was becoming clear that a lack of difference-makers on offense would hurt the 49ers. They aren’t as bad as some think when it comes to running the ball. It just doesn’t register with the aerial attack in such disarray. Breida can’t handle a ton of carries being a smaller back. And their tight end has over twice as many yards as any other ball-catcher on the team.
Similar Stations in Life
Both teams seem to have a lot of common threads, some of which just register differently. Each has a feeling of underachievement. Sure, there have to be bad teams and why not these two? But it was hard to imagine the Niners would be as bad as they were early last season without Garoppolo. And even if you were skeptical of how instantly Gruden would help turn things around for Oakland, not many people thought they’d be sitting at 1-6 through 7 games. Making it even harder is how un-clutch each team is. Both teams melt late almost on-cue. With the Raiders, it’s even more automatic. Once a team that was super-clutch, they can’t see a thing go their way late in a game going back nearly two seasons now.
Take the Points on the Road Underdog
At root, a bad defense is almost easier to camouflage than poor QB play. A bad defense will actually show up once in a while. Having a quarterback in there that isn’t up-to-par is a less concealable blemish. This game has a genuine toss-up feel to it. Backers of either team can only argue so hard about a contrary pick. For that reason, having points seems like the better route to go.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Oakland Raiders plus 3.5 points.
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