This is all you need to know about bad teams this time of year. Non-blowout losses are celebrated. Such teams are patted on the back for fighting. Yeah, great.
The Raiders head to the final quarter of this miserable season with a 2-10 record after a 40-33 home defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. Oakland was a 16-point home underdog. It was the biggest home underdog in NFL betting in 11 years.
Yes, the Raiders covered the point spread last week. Apparently, that impressed some folks. The truth is the Chiefs toyed with the Raiders, who did, indeed, fight hard. This outcome was never truly in question. The Chiefs have a double-digit lead late in the game. No, what the Raiders did was hang around the Chiefs.
I guess that’s an improvement for a team that had lost its suffered defeats of 14 points or more in the previous six defeats.
The best Oakland can do this season is a 6-10 record in the return of Jon Gruden. That same record got Jack Del Rio fired last season. Oakland is 2-14 in its last 16 games and have lower lose, at least, 10 games for the 12 times since 2003. Only Cleveland, with 13, has more in that time span.
Kansas City was out of sync on offense and it still scored 40 points. The Chiefs were playing their first game since cutting Kareem Hunt and they were out of sorts. Plus, the Chiefs’ defense is much worse than the Steelers defense.
So, I’m going back to the Raiders’ previous six losses were lost by at least 14 points instead of looking at this game. The Steelers are much better than the Raiders. Oakland also stalls offensively against better defense. I see that happening this week.
It will be interesting to see Pittsburgh play without running back James Connor. He has an ankle injury and he is out against the Raiders. With Connor out against the Raiders, the Steelers’ offense will be, of course, less versatile. But Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Juju Smith-Schuster and tight end Vance McDonald (tight ends kill the Raiders) should be enough.
The Steelers are coming off two straight losses and their lead in the AFC North has shrunk to a half game. Expect them to be focused in this game. Take the Steelers at -10.5 with Karamba.
The Raiders-Chiefs game totaled 73 points, easily surpassing the 56-point over/under total. And with the Pittsburgh offense going up against the Oakland defense (it is allowing 6.57 yards per play, which is the highest in the NFL since the 1970 merger through 12 games), I understand the high over/under total of 51.5 set by NFL bookmakers.
Still, I lean toward the under. The reason is because Oakland usually falters on offense after it has success. After Oakland scored 45 points in an overtime win over the Browns in Week 4, it scored 13 points total in the next two games.
After the team scored 28 points against the Colts in Week 8, it responded by totaling nine points in its next two games. Until Oakland proves otherwise, I expect this trend to continue. I see this point total in the 44-48 range. Bet under 51.5 with 888Sport.
Until the Raiders show me that they can gain 171 yards on the ground again like they did against the Chiefs, I will look the trends of this season in which Oakland’s offense is more of an ineffective group than an explosive one.
The same goes for Derek Carr. He abandoned his Checkdown-Charlie ways and completed five passes of balls thrown 15 or more yards downfield against the Chiefs. He did that for just the fourth time in the past two seasons.
Perhaps this Oakland offense is blooming under Jon Gruden? Instead, I’m banking on it is taking advantage of a Kansas City defense that has allowed 87 points in the past two games. So, I feel comfortable taking under 19.5 points for Oakland with 888Sport.
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