The Saints and Raiders seem to be teams heading in opposite directions. After a horrendous start to the season, the Saints are beginning to find a rhythm and giving themselves a shot at the playoffs. It certainly won’t be an easy task, but they have a glorious opportunity against a struggling Raiders team to improve their chances. They gave the Falcons their first loss of the season last week, so that could be a huge momentum builder for them going forward. If they knock off the Raiders that will bring them to .500 on the year at 5-5. The Raiders on the other hand are falling deeper and deeper into a hole, they are fresh off a 55-22 drubbing at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens last week and look all out of sorts. The defense used to be the unit that kept this team together, but that is getting torched with ease recently. They gave up 42 to the Buccaneers two weeks ago, and like I just alluded to, the Ravens scored 55 on them in week 10.
Coming into a game against the Saints after allowing 55 and 42 points the previous two weeks is not good news. While the Saints are only 4-5 this season, they still have one of the most potent offensive attacks in the NFL. Drew Brees has passed for 2847 yards with 25 TDs, so he is on pace for another great year. The offense has generally seen a non existent running game this season with Mark Ingram. The Saints, however, have seen a resurgence from running back Chris Ivory. Ivory has often been the forgotten man on the Saints offense which I have never really understood considering the way Ingram has panned out in New Orleans. Nevertheless, Ivory churned out 72 yards on only 7 carries for a 10.3 average. The offense is 4th in the NFL with regards to total yards per game, 392 per game. What is even more impressive is the fact they average 27.7 points a game. It doesn’t feel like they have played to their full capabilities this year yet, too. I think they may begin to pile on the points as we continue to reach the end of the season. After a blemish against the Broncos three weeks ago, they rattled off 28 against the Eagles and 31 last week against the Falcons.
If the Saints had some kind of defense, then they would most certainly be above .500 at the moment. As it stands now they are the worst group in the NFL, allowing 469 yards per game. In fact, the 31st ranked team, the Buccaneers, allow 401 yards per game so it isn’t even close. While they are bad against the pass, they are particularly really awful against the run. Poor tackling has given way to teams running for 162 yards per game on them. The defense will need to continue to hope that the offense continues to put up monster puts, in which I think they will.
The Raiders offense has been a bit of a mystery. We are in week 11 now, and it is still difficult to get a feel for this group. They can rip off 30+ points one week, and then fail to get into a groove the next. Their offense is much better at home than on the road, however. They even putt up 34 points against the Steelers earlier in the year. Their latest home game was against another porous defense, the Buccaneers, in that contest they lost but scored 32 points. You’re thinking wait, they scored 32 points and still lost? Yes, that would be correct, as they surrendered 42 points. So, with that said it isn’t any secret that the defense is having some problems as they allow a whopping 31.6 points a game.
Saints vs. Raiders Spread and Betting Odds:
New Orleans Saints -4.5(-115)
@Oakland Raiders +4.5 (-105)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Saints vs. Raiders Pick:
This is a pivotal game for the Saints, they have the potential here to smack the Raiders around and strike fear into the rest of the league with a dominating performance. I think the Raiders are all but dead in the water and they know that. However, the Raiders do bring at home in front of their hostile fans. Carson Palmer still has something left in his arm and can dish it around. If he gets into a rhythm the offense can be a good one. The Raiders have also beaten up on bad defenses this year when they had the chance, scoring 32 on the Bucs, 26 on the Chiefs, and 26 on the Jaguars. They also torched the Steelers vaunted defense for 34 at home.
Meanwhile, I expect Drew Brees to finish the latter part of this season off really strong. 35+ points a game should be the norm for the Saints down the stretch. It is something you have come to expect from the Saints, but they just haven’t been doing it with the same consistency like last year. Brees should feast off a bad pass defense here and get close to the 40 point mark. I do like the Saints -4.5, but I just don’t like laying points on the road with such a bad defense. In that case, I’ll take the over, which promises to be a high scoring affair in Oakland.
PICK = OVER 54.5