NFL Betting Trends Make a Raiders Cover the Pick in Week 6

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 1:13 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 1:13 PM UTC

Tony Sparano and the Oakland Raiders have symbolically buried their 0-4 start, and history suggests their NFL betting fortunes could turn around this Sunday when they face their AFC West rivals, the San Diego Chargers.

Jason’s Record After Week 5: 19-16 ATS, 5-7-1 Totals

Profit: plus-0.1 units

As an organization, the Oakland Raiders are – dare we say it? – a tire fire that’s been burning for over a decade now. The sins of Al Davis have fallen upon his son Mark, who inherited a front office in major need of an overhaul. It’s not the change they need most, but at least the Raiders (0-4 SU, 2-2 ATS) have a new interim head coach: Tony Sparano, who replaced Dennis Allen on Sept. 30.

History hasn’t been kind to coaches in this position. But this is a special situation with the Raiders coming off a bye week and preparing to face one of the teams they’re chasing in the AFC West standings, the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers (4-1 SU, 5-0 ATS) are favored by seven points as we go to press, which is just enough to trigger our feature NFL betting trend for Week 6.


No, Not Tony Soprano
According to Walter Cherepinsky, divisional dogs of seven points or higher are 144-130 ATS (52.6 percent) since 2002. As was the case with last week’s feature trend, this is virtually a break-even bet when you factor in the standard –110 juice. But if you break it down and look at each individual head coach, Raiders fans have extra cause for optimism: Sparano was 2-1 ATS in this situation during his four years with the Miami Dolphins.

On the surface of things, Sparano looks like an upgrade over Allen. He was the chosen one for Bill Parcells when The Big Tuna took over the Dolphins front office in 2008; Parcells had previously hired Sparano (who played center for the Division II New Haven Chargers) in 2003 as a tight ends coach for the Dallas Cowboys, and Sparano had instant success in Miami, leading the Fish to the AFC East title at 11-5 (8-8 ATS). It was his only winning season, but there you go.


New Coach Smell
Oakland’s players seem happy enough to have Sparano coaching them. The question is whether everyone will be on the same page in time for Sunday’s contest (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS). It’s the familiarity with divisional rivals that makes our feature betting trend work – and historically, coaches who take over in the middle of the season haven’t been able to make the quick turnaround, going 7-14 ATS in their first game dating back to 1996.

Ah, but that trend doesn’t include coaches who took over during the bye week. Sparano has had plenty of time to prepare for San Diego, and it’s not like he’s unfamiliar with the Raiders or vice versa; Sparano was officially named their assistant head coach as well as their offensive line coach when he was first hired in early 2013.


The Wire
So how comfortable are you with the idea of laying wood on the Raiders? The football betting universe is leaning pretty heavily in the other direction, with nearly 70 percent of early bettors pounding the Chargers and their perfect ATS record. But what if we told you that Oakland is 4-6 SU and 7-3 ATS against San Diego dating back to 2009?

The Raiders have also been working the waiver wire this week, picking up WR Kenbrell Thompkins from the New England Patriots and LB Ray-Ray Armstrong from the St. Louis Rams. These are positions of need for Oakland with WR Rod Streater (foot) and LB Kaluka Maiava (hamstring) going on injured reserve. As well, it looks like promising rookie QB David Carr (75.2 passer rating) will be ready to go despite hurting his knee and ankle in Week 4. That might be enough talent for the Raiders to ride this trend and beat the NFL odds against the banged-up Chargers.

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