Oakland Raiders (4-6 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (2-8 SU, 4-6 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday, November 29, 2015 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OAK -1.5/TEN +1.5
Over/Under Total: 44
The Oakland Raiders come into Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Neither team has been in great form, as Tennessee came up short last week, losing last Thursday to the Jaguars, 19-13. The loss dropped them to 2-8 and even in an AFC South where no team is over .500, the Titans are pretty much out of it and just looking to salvage something for the future. The Raiders have now dropped 3 in a row after sitting pretty at 4-3. On Sunday, they lost at Detroit, 18-13.
The Raiders have certainly cooled down with the three straight defeats. They lost a 3-point game at Pittsburgh and fought hard before being beaten by Minnesota the following week. On Sunday, they faced a suddenly-hot Detroit team, falling just short. This latest three-game losing streak has been disappointingmake no mistake about it. The Raiders were looking to climb into the playoff race and it simply wasnt in the cards.
At the same time, one shouldnt be so hard on the Raiders for whats happened over the past three weeks. At the end of the day, theyre still a team with a lot of things to work on. The fighting spirit is there. The energy is there. But at some point in a season, certain personnel issues will begin to resonate badly. And Oakland may have made some improvements, but there are still issues-galore on this team. And chief among those things is a not-ready-for-primetime defense that languishes across most areas. And the offense has made major gains, but with so many young players in key positions, they lack consistency.
Be that as it may, there have been significant gains made by this team. They havent been in the best form in the past two weeks, but this is an offense that formed a solid identity this season, something they can keep building on as they move forward. Derek Carr is having a good season in his sophomore campaign, with over 2500 yards and 21 TD passes against just 6 picks. RB Latavius Murray has slacked off for the past two weeks, but has established himself as a force coming out of the backfield. The real gains have been made aerially, with Amari Cooper having a fine rookie season and Michael Crabtree becoming a key part of the offense. In addition to those guys, there are a gaggle of playmakers who are bound to step into the spotlight at any given time. Giving this offense even more bite is an offensive line that is keeping their young quarterback out of trouble, allowing just 13 sacks all season.
But the defense still lags behind the offense in terms of development. They have played some good games this season. But in half of their games, they have given up at least 29 points. This is the 29th-ranked defense in the league in terms of total yardage, while giving up 26 points per game. They have had particular issues in the secondary, where they give up an average of 290 yards per game. They only gave up 18 to Detroit on Sunday, but had given up 68 combined points in their previous 2 games.
Tennessee has won twice, which equals their win total from last year. This is really a transitional season for the Titans, as they work in rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota. And despite all the issues on the team, Mariota hasnt been that bad. The talented rookie didnt step into the best position, with an offensive cast that is devoid of game-changing talent. Mariota has completed over 65% of his throws with 13 touchdowns and 6 picks. Again, hes doing it with very little help.
The Titans are ranked 30th in the league in points scored at 18.2 per game and in terms of total yardage. They have no difference-makers in the ground-game, with Antonio Andrews leading the way. The aerial attack is not electric, but its a little better than the ground game. TE Delanie Walker is one of the best in the business, but again, the receiving corps is a bit thin. Kendall Wright and Dexter McCluster (doubtful) have chipped in, but more often than not, this offense is a bit stuck in the mud.
Defensively, the Titans have actually been pretty good and you wonder what theyd be looking like if bolstered by an offense that doesnt hang them up to dry. Theyve been very tough against the pass, ranked third in the league against opposing aerial attacks. And theyre 6th in total yards, while allowing a respectable 23.3 points per game. Theyve sacked quarterbacks 31 times. Its a pretty formidable group across all areas. Sure, theyve been losing, but the defense isnt responsible for all the ills that ail this team.
The Titans are at home, facing a team in Oakland that is still a developing entity. Oakland hasnt shown they can win on the road consistently and truth be told, theyre in a bit of a funk right now. Granted, The Titans still have trouble manufacturing wins, having lost a handful of their close games this season. While it shows that they are close, it shows that they still have a ways to go. I look for Oakland to look at this game as a prime opportunity to right the ship and get things pointed in the right direction, as opposed to sagging to the finish line in a season that started so promisingly. Im going with Oakland in a tough close game.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oakland Raiders minus 1.5 points.
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