Jason’s record after Week 11: 29-43 ATS, 13-17-1 Totals
Profit: minus-45.95 units
The Oakland Raiders aren’t the worst team in football. They have the worst record at 0-10 SU (5-5 ATS), but the Raiders do have some positive attributes. Scoring is not one of them. Oakland is dead last in the league at 152 points, with just 17 touchdowns and 11 field goals after 10 games. Let’s see… carry the one… that’s 15.2 points per game. The last team to do that poorly was the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs (13.2 points per game).
At least the Raiders can look across the field Thursday night (8:25 p.m. ET, NFLN) and visualize how quickly their fortunes can turn around. The Chiefs rebounded quickly in 2013 after hiring Andy Reid as head coach, and they’re playing even better in 2014. It’s not like they’ve got an elite offense, either: Thursday’s total of 42.5 points is one of the lowest on the Week 12 NFL odds board. It could get lower still.
Putting these two AFC West rivals together in prime time seems like a strange choice. Even if you didn’t know the Raiders were going to bite so hard this year, their recent history with the Chiefs isn’t littered with highlight-reel moments. The UNDER is 14-3-1 in their last 17 games stretching back to 2005. Only five of those games produced a combined final score of more than 40 points.
Granted, one of those rare games happened to take place the last time these teams met, and it was a doozy: Kansas City 56, Oakland 31 (OVER 44.5). We’re going to call that one an outlier. It happened last year in Week 15, with the Raiders playing out the string and the Chiefs trying to clinch a postseason berth. Oakland had never given up that many points in a single game. Turning the ball over seven times didn’t help the cause.
This is a different Oakland team now – for better and for worse. The defense has improved a fair amount, climbing from No. 26 to No. 19 overall (No. 24 pass, No. 14 rush) on the DVOA charts. The Raiders have still given up 265 points, more than all but five teams in the league, which is why their over/under is split at 5-5 this year. But at least they’ve shown continued improvement in Year Three under defensive co-ordinator Jason Tarver.
The “worse” part leads us to Oakland’s ground game, which has been virtually non-existent this season. The Raiders are last in the league in running efficiency, down from No. 16 in 2013, when they got some surprisingly good results from Rashad Jennings (4.5 yards per carry) in relief of the injured and ineffective Darren McFadden (3.3 yards per carry). Jennings had two rushing TDs for Oakland in that blowout loss to the Chiefs. He’s with the New York Giants now. The Raiders have two rushing TDs for the entire season thus far.
Perhaps we’re about to see history repeat itself. McFadden (3.5 yards per carry) is having another awful year, and Maurice Jones-Drew (2.1 yards) has been a bust since coming over from Jacksonville in the offseason. That leaves a potential opening this week for Latavius Murray. The second-year tailback out of Central Florida got his first meaningful touches as a pro last week against the San Diego Chargers, and Murray acquitted himself well with 43 yards on four carries, plus three catches for another 16 yards. His workload in practice has been ramped up in anticipation for Thursday’s contest. Will Murray pull a Jonas Gray on us? It could happen, but for your NFL picks tonight we’re not betting on it.
Free NFL Pick: Bet UNDER 43 at The Greek