The Oakland Raiders are one of the craziest teams in the NFL. The Jon Gruden reunion tour has been a disaster thus far. Oakland is one of three 0-3 teams. The thing is, Oakland isn’t getting pounded every week. It is blowing games.
Try this statistic on for size: The Raiders have not trailed at any moment in the first three quarters of any game this season. They have trailed for just 22 minutes of possible 180 minutes, yet they are 0-3. That’s pretty difficult to do.
Oakland isn’t just this close to winning. It is screwing games up. The Raiders have led at halftime of all the of their games, but they have fallen apart in the second half. Oakland has been outscored 64-17 in the second half and has been dominated 37-3 in the fourth quarter.
Gruden and his staff aren’t making the right second-half adjustments while the opposing sidelines are. Also, the oldest roster in the NFL is wilting in the second half. Oakland has the No. 6 ranked offense in the NFL but has scored the fifth fewest points in the league at 52.
This team has the worst field position in the NFL and is failing in the red zone. Plus, the Oakland defense is getting ripped in key situations and has no pass-rush in the aftermath of the Khalil Mack trade to Chicago. This all points to a frustrating, winless start.
Believe it or not, the Browns are one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL at the moment. It’s all about Baker Mayfield. The No. 1 overall pick came in as an injury replacement for the ineffective Tyrod Taylor and led the Browns to a thrilling win over the New York Jets on Thursday night. It was Cleveland’s first win since 2016. Mayfield is now the Browns’ starting quarterback.
And all eyes will be on Oakland on Sunday, and it has nothing to do with Jon Gruden. The league will want to see what Mayfield can do with a week to think about playing and against a defense that is game-planning for him.
But the Browns look resurgent for reasons beyond Mayfield. The roster is deeper, and the defensive front is strong. The Browns defense has excelled against quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Sam Darnold.
Derek Carr can struggle against better defenses, so the Browns will not be an easy task for Oakland as it desperately tries to win Sunday.
The Raiders’ biggest injury issue is kicker Mike Nugent, who is out with a hip injury. He is being replaced for the week by rookie Matt McCrane from Kansas State. He was with Arizona in the preseason and will be making his NFL debut against the Browns.
The other key injuries are to right tackle Donald Penn, but he is making progress from a concussion that caused him to leave the Miami game. He is expected to play, but if not, TJ Clemmings will take his place. Rookie starting defensive tackle PJ Hall has a chance to play this week after being out since Week 1 with an ankle injury.
The Browns’ only possible injury issue is with defensive back Damarious Randall. He missed Wednesday’s practice with a heel injury.
Here are some things for NFL betting fans to consider in this matchup:
The Browns are probably the slightly better team and they have more confidence and mojo going than Oakland. The Browns are sky-high after their win and the insertion and success of Mayfield. Plus, this is a pretty good team, anyway.
The Browns are coming off a 10-day break and the knowledge that they could easily be 3-0. Oakland is emotionally battered and worn down after two road games at Denver and Miami in poor weather. This game will likely be tight, but the smart money seems to lean on the Browns at plus 3 at SugarHouse.
Two of three Oakland games have gone under, and the Raiders have scored just 52 points, the fifth fewest points in the NFL. The Browns have allowed just 59 points. Plus, I could see Mayfield struggling some in his first start, especially on the road. I like the under 44.5 at SugarHouse.
The Raiders have led at halftime in all three games and there will be urgency to start fast at home after the horrible start of the season and in front of skeptical home crowd. Plus, for the reasons I like the full-game under, I like the under at 23.5. Bet the parlay with SugarHouse at +185.
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