The Raiders are above .500 with their win last week while the Steelers are trying to rebound from 2 straight losses. What are NFL odds makers offering and which team is best for our NFL picks?
Oakland Raiders (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS)
David Carr was the first overall pick of the Houston Texans back in 2002 when his little brother was still playing Pop Warner. David never quite panned out but brother Derek, less acclaimed and chosen in the second-round of the 2014 draft, has got the right stuff, the je ne sais quoi that escaped his older brother. David readily admits his younger brother is the best quarterback in the family and his explanation can go a long way towards understanding why the Raiders have become such a hot commodity.
"[Derek] understands the game more than I did, so his confidence level is just off the charts," David said, via the Raiders official website. "[His] leadership ability is kind of where I was never at early on in my career. He's able to go out and get guys that are seven, eight years older than him to actually buy in to what he's doing, and believe that he can play, and believe that he can go out and lead the team."
And that quite eloquently sums up what makes Derek Carr tick and why he is so good at such a young age. The veterans are buying into what he's selling and the results have raised eyebrows all around the league. Oakland already has more wins this year than they have averaged over the past three seasons. Carr has 15 touchdowns on the season to only three interceptions and his rapport with rookie sensation Amari Cooper is setting up as the next great pass-catch combination. Forget about what you used to believe about Oakland because they are a legitimate threat this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4 SU, 4-2 ATS)
The NFL odds makers looked at that game last week between Pittsburgh and their undefeated divisional rivals the Cincinnati Bengals and said "coin flip." Because when the line settled it was stuck at a pick'em and the way the game went that's exactly where it should have been based on how even the teams played. Neither club was able to put much distance on the scoreboard and the game was very much in doubt until Andy Dalton struck for his only touchdown of the afternoon late in the game to seal a 16-10 Bengals victory over the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh welcomed Roethlisberger back into the fold and it looked like vintage Big Ben on the opening drive when he marched his team 80 yards down the field where he completed four of five culminating in a touchdown pass to Antonio Brown. But unfortunately for those who backed Pittsburgh in their NFL picks last week the rust hadn't quite worn off the three-time Pro Bowler. Roethlisberger was sacked twice and threw three interceptions which derailed the Steelers' chances to gain a substantial lead. On a positive note the defense was outstanding and is currently ranked 5th in the league allowing an average of only 18.4 PPG.
The Raiders are catching the Steelers with Roethlisberger having only one game under his belt since his return and Le'Veon Bell no longer a concern as he is out for the season. This is a game that pits two excellent passers against one another but only one team has a superb defense and that will be the tipping point in this one.
Although Derek Carr has been outstanding and the Raiders have completely overachieved I believe their defense is still mighty suspect despite the ageless Charles Woodson leading the league in interceptions with five. Roethlisberger should be able to take advantage of a passing defense that is almost dead last (above only the Giants) allowing 302.1 yards per game. That should give Roethlisberger plenty of opportunity to go to work and atone for last week's defeat.
NFL Pick: Play Pittsburgh -4 (-110) at BetOnline