NFL Pick: Detroit Lions vs Oakland Raiders
NFL Betting Favorite: Lions -1
It’s been an up and down season for the Detroit Lions. At the beginning of the season they were the media darlings, but they hit a rough spot and looked like they were slipping out of the playoff race. The Lions bounced back with a big win last week, and they’ll get Ndamukong Suh back this weekend. Oakland is coming off back-to-back beatdowns on the road at the hands of the Dolphins and the Packers. The Raiders need a win to try to stay in touch with the Broncos in the AFC West.
Matt Stafford has stayed healthy this year, and it has led to him having the breakout season that many expected. Stafford has piled up 29 touchdown passes through the team’s first 13 games. He has an impressive completion percentage of 63.4%. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Stafford has a beast on the outside in the form of Calvin Johnson. Johnson is on pace to set a career high in both receptions and receiving yards this season. He has hauled in 12 touchdowns in 2011. Keiland Williams and Maurice Morris are splitting the carries in the backfield now that Jahvid Best is out for the season. Detroit is averaging 28.2 points per game, which is fourth best in the NFL.
Detroit’s defense has been great against the pass this year, but they have been getting gashed by solid running teams. Cliff Avril doesn’t get much attention in the press, but he leads the team with nine sacks. He and Kyle Vanden Bosch do a nice job making the opposing quarterback uncomfortable. This defense doesn’t do a good enough job getting off the field on third down. The Lions are giving up 23.5 points per game.
The Raiders made a big trade to pickup Carson Palmer after Jason Campbell went down with a season-ending collarbone injury. Palmer has struggled with turnovers since taking over the starting job. While Palmer has thrown for 1,730 yards in just seven games, he also has an alarming 13 interceptions during that span. Palmer must cut down on the turnovers if the Raiders are going to make a playoff push. Darren McFadden hasn’t played since week seven, and that really hurts this Raiders team. Michael Bush is a very good power runner, but he doesn’t have the game breaking speed and cutting ability that McFadden has. Receivers Jacoby Jones, Chaz Schilens, and Denarius Moore are all listed as questionable for this weekend’s game.
The Oakland defense started out the season playing pretty well, but things have gone downhill quickly over the last few weeks. The Raiders have allowed at least 34 points in three of their last six games. The entire defense has been stellar in rushing the passer, but when it comes to stopping the run they have been terrible. Safety Tyvon Branch leads the team in tackles, and any time a safety leads the team in tackles it means you are having trouble stopping the run.
Both teams should be able to move the ball in this one. Stafford is playing much better than Palmer right now, so I give the Lions the edge here.
Free NFL Pick: Lions -1
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