It wasn’t pretty — but if you ask guys like Maxx Crosby and Davante Adams, it doesn’t matter because, on Monday Night Football, the Las Vegas Raiders walked out of Allegiant Stadium with a victory.
Sure, the offense was a mess — but the defense put together their best performance of the season and limited a hampered Green Bay Packers offense to just 13 points, thanks in part to three interceptions. Normally, you’d look at a night like that and say, “This needs to improve if they’re going to win again”, but with a visit from New England in the cards this weekend, I’m not quite so sure that’s true.
If there’s an element of the Raiders roster or performance you’re concerned about, I can pretty much assure you the Patriots have had it worse. Think Jimmy Garoppolo has been a mess? Let me introduce you to Mac Jones. Think Josh Jacobs has been a disappointment? Take a look at Rhamondre Stevenson’s numbers this season (2.8 YPC!). Heck, even the brightest spot on their roster — pass rusher Matthew Judon — just had surgery on his bicep, which might end his season.
A week ago, I was ready to put dirt on the Raiders season, given just how disjointed everything had been — and how little improvement I was seeing from units where I expected to see some. And yet, despite how bad the Raiders have been, the schedule does set up nicely for them: over the next five weeks, they play the Patriots, Bears, Giants and Jets — all teams that have equally big questions and concerns.
But it all starts with Sunday and the Patriots – the Josh McDaniels Bowl, if you will. Yes, it’s a short week, but it’s at home, and the Patriots have spent all week listening to local talk radio ask for Bill Belichick to be fired — so no excuses.
As for my picks, we’re looking for yet another bounce-back. After starting off the season on a total heater, we’ve gone 0-for over the last two weeks — and yet we remain in the black for the season still! Time to get back to our winning ways… (Odds via BetOnline.AG)
Last week: 0-5, -5 units (Season: 11-13-1, +0.79 units)
Mac Jones OVER 0.5 interceptions (-136)
The only fear here is that Jones gets benched, and yet he would probably need to throw a pick for that to happen, so we feel okay about this. Jones stinks, his offensive line stinks, and his receivers stink — while the Raiders are fresh off a three-pick night and full of confidence. Pound the over.
Jimmy Garoppolo OVER 0.5 interceptions (-124)
With Judon out, Jimmy should be okay in the pocket — and most of his mistakes come with pressure in his face — and yet, until he doesn’t throw a pick, we’re going to pound this line every week.
Josh Jacobs OVER 69.5 rushing yards (-106)
At some point, we need to cash a Jacobs over, right? If the Raiders can spend most of this game with the lead, I think they aim to control the clock, which means a heavy dose of the running game. Jacobs is due for a breakout, and I’m predicting it’s Sunday.
New England to score 11-20 points (+123)
This is a weird one, but I like to pick at least one plus-money bet, and this seems like a good one. No chance the Raiders limit them to 10 or less (no matter how bad Mac Jones is), but I also don’t see three New England touchdowns in the cards either. Give me the 11-20 band, and let’s make some money.
Las Vegas -2.5 (-152)
For the first time all year, I’m picking the Raiders. This line opened at -1.5 and has been bet all the way up to a full field goal, but I’m still fine laying the points. I genuinely think the Patriots stink — and they’re a mess internally as well, so give me a little Jimmy G / Jakobi Meyers / all the other Patriots guys’ revenge game and a cover.