Week 1 Raiders vs. Saints Predictions & Free NFL Picks

Raiders Team members looking towards the field

Jason Lake

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 2:30 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2016 2:30 PM UTC

Sunday's game between the Oakland Raiders and the New Orleans Saints might be the toughest NFL pick from Week 1. But the Raiders should have some betting value.

Every once in a while, you look at the NFL odds for a game, and your eyes light up like two Christmas trees. This is not one of those games: The Oakland Raiders visit the New Orleans Saints this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) in a matchup that's so close on paper, our consensus reports at press time show a virtually even split in support between the two sides. What to do?

Same thing we do with every NFL betting pick here at the home office, Pinky. We start by taking a contrarian position, then we'll look at the game itself and see if there's any reason why we should switch. It's a simple enough process, even if the pick itself is marginal – and in marginal situations like this, we always recommend making a suitably small bet, certainly no bigger than one percent of your bankroll. Save those 10-percent bets for when you think you've got a Five-Star Deadbolt Lock of the Year.


Meet Me in Las Vegas
So who's the contrarian pick? It has to be the Raiders, who are holding steady as 1-point road dogs on our NFL odds board. They haven't had a winning season since 2002, and they're tucked away on the West Coast, waiting for a chance to move out of that cesspool they dare to call a football stadium. The Saints, meanwhile, are a widely-beloved franchise that's enjoyed a decade of (mostly) success under the Sean Payton-Drew Brees aegis. We expect the betting public to wade in over the weekend and start pounding New Orleans.

There are already some signs this is the case. Our expanded consensus reports show 55.1 percent of the monies wagered landing on Oakland, coming from the wallets and/or purses of 50.4 percent of bettors. That gives the Raiders an average bet of $58, compared to $48 for the Saints. Early action tends to be sharp, and sharps usually bet bigger than casual fans, but as we said above, nobody should be betting the farm on this game.


Vox Hoomana
Now let's see if the data supports picking the Raiders. We only use the choicest cuts of data here at the ranch – as long as they're free, so we can all use them. TeamRankings have a solid reputation, and they project Oakland to win 7.9 games this year, compared to 6.8 wins for New Orleans. On the NFL props market, the Raiders appear overvalued at 8.5 wins, but so do the Saints as –130 favorites (and higher) to go OVER 7. We'll call it a wash.

On the medical front, the Saints put TE Michael Hoomanawanui on injured reserve Saturday with an undisclosed leg injury. Hoomanawanui was their best blocking tight end, a role that the betting public doesn't value highly enough. The Raiders are relatively healthy, so let's stick with them as our first pick of the 2016 regular season, but consider waiting until closer to kick-off for a better price. Don't miss out on SBR online sportsbooks rating guide and make sure you are placing the wagers at the best place, such as Heritage.

Free NFL Pick: Raiders +1 –105
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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