I was wrong on the Raiders in Week 2 NFL picks as I didn't give them a shot to upset Baltimore, but that's what they did. Let's see if we can do better with Oakland a 3.5-point underdog at Cleveland.
Carr Shines vs. Ravens
Oakland was a 6-point home dog on NFL odds Sunday but beat the Ravens 37-33 -- a shocking result considering how bad the Raiders looked in a Week 1 33-13 home loss to Cincinnati. Raiders QB Derek Carr was iffy for the game early last week after hurting his thumb against the Bengals and having to leave. But he was in there against Baltimore and threw the winning 12-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts with 26 seconds left. Carr went 7-for-9 for 65 yards on the 80-yard winning drive. He was helped by a personal foul on Baltimore defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and a hold on defensive back Will Hill III that negated an interception
Carr finished 30-fof-46 for 351 yards, three touchdowns and one pick. He led Oakland to four first-half scores, something the team hadn't accomplished since November 2011. He also became the first Raiders passer to throw for 200 yards in the first half since Carson Palmer did it three-plus years ago. Michael Crabtree caught nine balls for 111 yards and a touchdown, and Amari Cooper had seven catches for 109 yards and a TD (a 68-yarder on a third-and-8). They are the first pair of Raiders receivers to each post 100 receiving yards in a game since Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore accomplished the feat Jan. 1, 2012, against the San Diego Chargers.
So while the Oakland offense looked good, the defense didn't. The Ravens had 493 yards and 29 first downs. Oakland registered zero sacks and just one hit on quarterback Joe Flacco. The Raiders still don't have a sack on the season. It appears the Raiders got out of the Baltimore game pretty healthy.
We Saw Johnny Football Again!
Cleveland was a 1-point favorite on NFL odds Sunday at home against Tennessee and won 28-14 -- quite a turnaround for the Browns as they also looked terrible in Week 1, a 31-10 loss against the Jets. Johnny Manziel got the start at quarterback against the Titans -- an all-Heisman matchup against Marcus Mariota -- because Josh McCown was still in the concussion protocol. Manziel had easily the best game of his young career, going 8-for-15 for 172 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions (he did fumble twice but neither was lost).
Travis Benjamin caught both those scores, finishing with 115 yards on just three grabs. He also returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown. Benjamin has four touchdowns this season, all of which have been at least 50 yards. He's the first player whose first four touchdowns of a season have all been at least 50 yards since Patrick Peterson in 2011.
So will Manziel start this week even if McCown is cleared? Coach Mike Pettine isn't saying yet. McCown could be cleared as early as Tuesday, but Pettine has continued to simply say he will start the QB who gives the Browns the best chance to win. I would be stunned if Manziel doesn't get the call. Pettine said Manziel has made his decision on a starting quarterback more difficult "and that's a good thing.''
These clubs met Week 8 last year in Cleveland, with the Browns taking a 23-13 victory. Former Browns starting QB Brian Hoyer threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Hawkins early in the fourth period, shortly after safety Donte Whitner's big hit on Oakland running back Darren McFadden forced a fumble that was caught in the air by Browns cornerback Joe Haden and returned 34 yards. Cleveland wasn't all that great statistically, rushing for 39 yards and going only 2-for-12 on third down. Hoyer, now with Houston, was 19-for-28 for 275 yards and a touchdown. Hawkins caught seven passes for 88 yards and that TD for a 16-6 lead. Carr was 34-for-54 for 328 yards with a touchdown but was sacked four times and fumbled twice. The Raiders outgained the Browns 387-306 and held the ball for 34:52 but turned it over three times. Cleveland was a 6.5-point favorite on NFL odds and the total at sportsbooks was 44.5.
NFL Free Picks: Sorry Raiders, still don't trust you, especially on road (and especially with a 10 a.m. Pacific time start). so for my NFL picks I suggest to give the points and go 'Under' the total at Pinnacle.