Oakland Raiders (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OAK +2/TEN -2
Over/Under Total: 50.5
In week one action, the Oakland Raiders come to Nissan Stadium in Nashville to face the Tennessee Titans. Its a key season for both teams, each of which made strides in 2017. The Raiders are coming off a pivotal 12-win season, but look for more after a bad finish to the season where they lost QB Derek Carr. But the Raiders will be facing a hungry home team in the Titans who made a major upgrade in 2016 with a big 9-win season. Which of these rising franchises can get the 2017 season off to a good start?
This is a big year for the Tennessee franchise. They were able to add 6 wins to their 3-win season of 2015 last season and it could have been even better with almost all of their losses being by painfully-close margins. This is season number three for QB Marcus Mariota, who has morphed into a top-flight quarterback in his first two seasons behind center. The Titans like to run the ball and with Mariota, along with the AFCs leading rusher from last season in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, they will do more of it this season.
Adding even more optimism to the Titans prospects this season is an enhanced aerial attack. Its remarkable they got as far as they did with what was basically a stripped-bare cast of ball-catchers. The Titans still have one of the more-offensive tight ends in Delanie Walker. But the additions of draft picks Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor in the draft might really pay off. Free agent receiver Rishard Matthews, who quietly had some good seasons with Miami, might also pay off, as might getting Eric Decker, a reliable force when healthy and young. Well see what he has left in the tank. Making it all come together is a very serviceable line that was able to spring loose a big run-attack last season. Tackles Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin are a young duo, but one that is getting better. Ben Jones at center and LG Quinton Spain are also good on the inside and we might see a more-potent Tennessee offense this season.
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The Titans defense will tell the story of how far they go. Look for a shoddy secondary to get a boost with the addition of Adoree Jackson in the draft, along with CB Logan Ryan in free agency. Safety isnt terribly strong, but well see. The middle is stocked with Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan on the outside, though the inside is dicey with Wesley Woodyard the only proven force there. And well see if the line can make some strides with Jurrell Casey and DaQuan Jones at the ends and Sylvester Williams and Austin Johnson inside.
Oakland looks to hit the ground running in 2017. Derek Carr is back and if he can stay healthy, he will resume his role as one of the top rising QB commodities in the league. After grinding so hard to manufacture a 12-4 record, it was upsetting how Carr was befallen by injuries right at the end of the regular season. With some help in the backfield and defensive improvements made, Carr and the Raiders look to make a playoff run this season.
Playing back in his hometown looks to invigorate the returning Marshawn Lynch. Unless he has completely regressed, he should be an upgrade at the position and he benefits from nice depth, with Jalen Richard and DeWayne Washington also providing production. A pair of 1000-yard receivers in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper lead the aerial game. The addition of Cordarrelle Patterson gives them another interesting option and immediately boosts their return game. Helping it all resonate to its fullest is a line that has finally found its way, led by T Donald Penn, a good center in Rodney Hudson, RT Austin Howard, and a pair of good guards. There is nice depth behind them in case someone gets hurt.
Oakland put emphasis on defense, starting with leadership, as John Pagano is aboard to help Ken Norton, Jr. figure out this group. The secondary looks to get better, but they can make plays with free safety Reggie Nelson and SS Karl Joseph, with Sean Smith and David Amerson (questionable) at corner. First-round pick Gareon Conley offers some upside. The front also looks like it could be good. Khalil Mack is one of the best players in football and can rush the heck out of the passer. Bruce Irvin also aids in that cause. A healthy Mario Edwards up-front would be huge, especially if guys like Justin Ellis and Eddie Vanderdoes can chip in. Its unfortunate that some injuries look to have already robbed them of some of their potential this season, with some guys banged up in camp, but one could easily see how they can be better this season.
Last season in this very matchup in Nashville, Oaklands defense had one of their better games in a 17-10 Raiders win. Mariota had a particularly bad game with two picks, but they really ran the heck out of the ball. This game has a real toss-up feel to it. In cases like that, we like to take the points. Im going with Oakland.
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