Two Poor Defenses Make 'Over' the NFL Pick In Raiders-Lions Game

Matthew Jordan

Friday, November 20, 2015 9:46 PM GMT

Who will be our NFL pick? It's never easy for a team from the West Coast to play those 1 p.m. Eastern time games but that's the case on Sunday for AFC wild-card hopeful Oakland as it visits Detroit.

Raiders In Crowded AFC Playoff Chase
Oakland (4-5) is currently ninth in the AFC playoff standings, behind Kansas City, the New York Jets (both 4-5) and Buffalo (5-4), which holds the final wild-card spot, but likely will lose Monday night at New England. In terms of potential tiebreakers, the Raiders already hold the head-to-head over the Jets thanks to a 34-20 Week 8 win. Oakland doesn't play Buffalo, and still has the Chiefs twice, including Week 17 in Kansas City. It should be noted that Miami and Houston are both 4-5 as well and the Raiders don't play them.

There's no question the Raiders are a team on the rise with excellent young players like quarterback Derek Carr, receiver Amari Cooper and linebacker Khalil Mack. But such a young team is prone to inconsistency. And the team is currently on a downward trend in having lost two straight. Last week the Raiders were beaten 30-14 at home by Minnesota, despite 302 yards passing and two touchdowns from Carr -- he did have two picks. He has thrown for 300 yards five times overall this season and in three straight games.

Defense has largely been a problem for Oakland, ranking 28th in total defense, but that's certainly not safety and future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson's fault. The 39-year-old is tied for the NFL lead with five interceptions while adding 46 tackles. He will be a Pro Bowler. This will be a homecoming of sorts for Woodson, as he grew up in neighboring Ohio, but of course became an All-American cornerback at Michigan and the only defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy. In the seven seasons Woodson played for the Green Bay Packers (2006-12) in the Lions' NFC North Division, he intercepted eight passes against the Lions and returned three of them for touchdowns.

The Oakland defense is now without linebacker Aldon Smith, who was suspended by the NFL this week for one year for another off-field incident from his 49ers days. The pass rush-needy Raiders signed Smith to a one-year deal in September. He was second on the team with 3.5 sacks and tied with Mack for most QB hits, with eight. Smith had played 78 percent of the Raiders' snaps.

The Raiders are 5-4 against the spread on NFL odds and 6-2-1 'over/under.'

 

Losing Would Benefit Lions More
The Lions (2-7) had perhaps the most unlikely win of this NFL season last week, as they had lost 24 straight road games to Green Bay and were 11-point underdogs but pulled off an 18-16 stunner at Lambeau Field -- ruining everyone's Survivor and Confidence Pools in the process. I realize these guys are paid professionals and don't want to just tank, but that win or any could be costly. Before last week, the Lions would have picked No. 1 in the 2016 draft. Now they'd pick sixth.

Detroit was coming off its bye week heading into Green Bay so that might have been a factor. And the Packers are in a bit of a funk right now. It's not like that struggling Detroit offense did much with 16 first downs and 287 total yards. Matthew Stafford threw for 242 yards with two scores, but the NFL's worst rushing game was again non-existent with 45 yards on 26 carries. The Lions had the worst scoring defense in the league entering that game (now second-worst) but allowed less than 28 points for the first time since a Week 4 loss in Seattle.

You figure Carr will get  his yards -- the Detroit secondary is without injured cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Josh Wilson for the season -- so the key here could be Raiders running back Latavius Murray as the Raiders are 3-0 this season when he rushes for 100 yards. Detroit is 28th in the league in allowing 124.1 rushing yards per game.

The Lions are  2-7 ATS on NFL picks and 5-4 O/U.

 

Last Meeting
Detroit won its third straight in the series, 28-27 at Oakland on Dec. 18, 2011. Stafford threw a 6-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson with 39 seconds remaining to cap a 98-yard scoring drive. Stafford completed 29 of 52 for 391 yards and four touchdowns. Johnson caught nine passes for 214 yards and two scores. The Raiders tried a record 65-yard field goal on the game's final play, but it was blocked by Ndamukong Suh. Carson Palmer was Oakland's QB that day. This will be the Raiders' first game in Detroit since 2003.

Only because of the start time and travel for Oakland, I lean the Lions. Go 'over' the total. The Raiders are 2-5 ATS in their past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The 'over' is 6-1 in Oakland's past seven on the road. The 'over' is 4-1 in the Lions' past five.

NFL Free Pick: Over 49.5 at Bookmaker

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