They would be in the playoffs if they started today, but do the Oakland Raiders and/or the New York Giants belong in your NFL picks for Super Bowl LI? The answer: it depends on where you shop.
Season Record: 17-14-1 ATS, 4-8 Totals
I think it's safe to say the Raiders (7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS) and the Giants (6-3 SU, 5-3-1 ATS) are doing better than expected. It's right there in the ATS records. Both teams had reason to be optimistic this year, but to be in a wild-card position in Week 11? There's a lot of happy fans on either coast right now.
Imagine how happier they'll be if their team wins Super Bowl LI in Houston. Both the Raiders and Giants are currently outsiders on the NFL odds board. Oakland is available between +1600 and +4500, while New York is +2000 at the low end and +6600 up top. If you can get either or both of these teams at those bargain prices, consider putting them in your NFL picks on a small wager, just in case. You never know – maybe the Giants will beat the heavily favored New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Again.
Actually, if either of these two is going to get the job done, it'll probably be Oakland. There are issues here: The Raiders have a point differential of plus-22 and they've earned just 5.5 Estimated Wins over at Football Outsiders. You're looking at one of the best offenses in the league with MVP candidate Derek Carr at quarterback, but the Raiders' defense ranks No. 28 in efficiency. Yarrrrrr.
The Giants have performed worse this year, posting a minus-2 point differential and 5.2 Estimated Wins. But aside from their special teams and running game, there isn't too much going wrong with the G-Men. And of course, Eli Manning and several of his teammates have been there before, winning a pair of Super Bowls over the Patriots.
Both teams have fairly middling schedules from here to the playoffs, but the Raiders have it easier and their playoff position is stronger at 7-2. Oakland is also the healthier club at this point – always an issue with the Giants, it seems. Let's go with the Silver and Black before they move to Las Vegas or Mexico City or the moon.