A brutal beginning to the pre-season for the Oakland Raiders could get even worse Saturday night as they do battle with the high-flying Detroit Lions. Oakland’s first-team offence has yet to net a touchdown this season, and starting quarterback Carson Palmer has looked abysmal in his team’s first two defeats. Though these tune-up games are mostly meaningless, the Raiders need to start compiling some positive aspects heading into their season. Unfortunately for them, going against a dangerous Detroit side featuring the likes of Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson, it won’t be easy this Saturday evening.
Detroit took a huge step forward during the last NFL season and will look to ride the wave of momentum entering their upcoming campaign. Coach Jim Schwartz certainly has the playoffs on his mind and has been focused on implementing a winning attitude throughout the pre-season. Thus far his team is 1-1 in August, but has yet to truly unleash his starters for an extended period of time. That is expected to come Saturday against Oakland.
Entering this game, Oakland did open up as the favourites in this match, but Detroit has now shifted into that role. It’s expected that Detroit will play their starters for at least the entire first half, giving them a clear advantage over an inferior Raiders squad.
Lions vs. Raiders Spread and Betting Odds:
Detroit Lions -2.5 (-125)
@ Oakland Raiders +2.5 (+105)
Over 43 (-110)
Under 43 (-110)
Lions vs. Raiders Pick:
This should be a big game for the Lions in their third pre-season match. They’ve experienced mixed results thus far, however tonight with their starters slated to receive most of the playing time, a big outing is certainly on the horizon. Moreover, promising tailback Mikel Leshoure is expected to start for the Lions after finally fending off a year-long injury bug. Leshoure has a lot to prove and after being hyped all of last season, many fans and pundits will be intrigued to see what the former University of Illinois running back can do. It’s a big opportunity for him as uncertainty exists within the Lions’ backfield and the starting job remains up for grabs.
As is customary with most NFL teams, the third pre-season match is the last time the starters will play extended minutes until the beginning of the regular season. Thus, look for Detroit to play their first-stringers for at least the bulk of the first half. The Lions know they’re a superior group to Oakland and will be counted upon to go out and prove it. Stafford and Johnson should be in sync and primed to terrorize a vulnerable Oakland secondary.
Meanwhile, Oakland has worked hard in training camp to rectify their past defensive deficiencies. They’ve switched over to occasional 3-4 alignments and blitzing from different angles, and are excited to test out their system against a formidable opponent such as the Detroit Lions. However, after conceding 31 points last week to an Arizona team without a clear #1 quarterback, the chances of stopping Matt Stafford remain slim.
Expect Detroit’s starters to steamroll an Oakland team that’s looked lost in their opening weeks of the pre-season. Darren McFadden is truly the Raiders’ only weapon, but look for Oakland to be extremely careful with their prized possession given his awful history of injuries. Look for the Stafford to Johnson connection to be in fine form, and the Lions to cruise into the regular season with an impressive performance in Oakland.