The Detroit Lions are over on the west coast for a Sunday afternoon meeting with the Oakland Raiders. A play here or there and this season could have been a lot different for the Lions. They fend off the Cardinals in the first game and win instead of a tie, and the Lions start with a ton of momentum on the road in the desert. The same goes for their matchup against the Chiefs, which could have gone either way at Ford Field. I don’t have to mention the Packers game, where they got royally screwed by the refs.
Rather than win those three games, the Lions are 3-3-1 going into Week 9. That’s football and sports for that matter for teams that are stuck in mediocrity. They don’t tend to win games that are there for the taking, as they invent new ways to lose games. Lions’ fans are familiar with the inventing new ways to lose games thing. There isn’t a lot separating a quality record from bad or average when it comes to these teams.
The Lions were victorious against a scrappy New York Giants team last week. They emerged with a 31-26 win but failed to cover the spread. Detroit enter Sunday as underdogs to the Raiders. The Raiders have had a similar season and have fought their hardest in most of their games. A play here or there and they could be better than their 3-4 record going into Week 9. After all of the drama surrounding this team in the preseason and losing Antonio Brown, it’s been a decent season for the Raiders all of that considered.
The Raiders emptied cap space with the Khalil Mack deal, and they had the room to sign a superstar to work with Derek Carr. That obviously backfired and the Raiders don’t have Mack or that superstar wide receiver. Jon Gruden is doing the best he can with what he has to work with, though. The offense has looked dangerous at times and it nearly caught the Texans off guard last week. Houston survived with a 27-24 win at home in that one. The key to a win for the Raiders this week will be limiting Matthew Stafford, who is having the most underrated seasons at QB in the NFL. Head below for our free Lions vs. Raiders pick.
Detroit Lions vs. Oakland Raiders NFL Week 9 Betting Odds:
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Lions vs. Raiders Pick:
Don’t sleep on Matthew Stafford this season. The guy who has faced a lot of criticism over his career for not getting the Lions over the hump is quietly firing away with darts on the field. Stafford has an outstanding QB rating of 105.3 with 16 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. That’s better than what Tom Brady has done this season. Mind you, Brady has a terrific defense to rely on, so he doesn’t have to do as much as Stafford. Stafford doesn’t have that benefit and has had to play with bad defenses for a large portion of his career.
Stafford has been dealing with a minor illness this week, but that’s unlikely to keep him out on Sunday. He will be making his 135th start in Oakland, which contradicts statements about how soft Stafford is. The Lions and Stafford will likely put up some nice numbers in this contest. They’ll be looking to feast on a weak Raiders’ defense that is more than beatable. Oakland are 25th in the NFL with 378.1 yards against per game. They’ve also allowed 27.4 points per game.
Defending the pass has been particularly difficult for the Raiders. Note that they’ve surrendered 285.3 yards per game for 30th in the league against the pass. Without Kerryon Johnson in the lineup, look for the Lions to air it out frequently. Quarterbacks have had a field day against the Raiders this season, as they’ve allowed one of the highest passer ratings in the NFL at 29th.
The Lions have been terrible against the pass as well. In fact, they’ve been worse, with 290 yards allowed per game for last in the league. The Raiders can certainly still focus on Josh Jacobs in the backfield and move the ball, though. Detroit have yielded 130.7 yards per game on the ground, so there should be room for him to move on the ground. Jacobs should be able to set up the pass for deep plays downfield for Carr. Safety Tracy Walker, if he does play, will be playing at less than 100% after exiting last week with a knee injury. Consider the OVER in what should be a 30-27 or 34-26 game on Sunday afternoon in Oakland.