NFL Preseason Pick: Raiders vs. 49ers
NFL Betting Favorite: 49ers -3 (-105)
It may only be the preseason, but a matchup between these two Bay area rivals will always be intriguing. The Raiders will take a short trip across the bay to visit San Francisco on Saturday evening. Both teams enter this game with far more questions than answers. Can either of these teams surprise the league and get back to the playoffs? Neither team plays in a particularly difficult division, so the opportunity for a surprise playoff visit isn’t completely out of the question.
Tom Cable helped the Oakland Raiders move their team forward quite a bit last year, but it wasn’t enough for him to save his job. The Raiders had the second best running game in the league last year, and they should be very good again this year. Darren McFadden had the breakout year that people were waiting for, and Michael Bush proved to be a great backup. Jason Campbell is still a question mark at the quarterback position. Campbell isn’t a bad quarterback, but some wonder if he is good enough to help this team get to where they want to go. The loss of tight end Zach Miller will definitely hurt the team’s offense. Nnamdi Asomugha was a huge loss for the Raiders defense. Oakland has some talent defensively, but they also have some holes.
The 49ers canned Mike Singletary near the end of last season, and during the offseason they went and brought in Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh was the hottest coaching commodity on the market this offseason and chances are he will help this team in the long run. Who will be the quarterback for San Francisco? Alex Smith was the number one draft pick in 2005, but he just hasn’t produced at high level. Harbaugh has faith in Smith and it is assumed that Smith will start again, but Colin Kaepernick might push him for some snaps. Frank Gore needs to stay healthy if the 49ers are going to make any noise this year. Braylon Edwards was a solid pickup for the 49ers. The team now has three solid pass catching weapons in Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Edwards. Patrick Willis is a beast of a leader for the defense, but the front four needs to do a better job pressuring the quarterback. The secondary lost Nate Clements, but Donte Whitner was solid addition.
Both of these teams lost in their preseason opener last weekend, and neither coach was particularly happy after that first game. Don’t expect the starting offenses to play for long in this one. Both defenses should hold up well. I like the under in this one.
Free NFL Pick: Raiders/49ers Under 34