NFL Point Spread: Patriots -4.5
New England was stunned at Buffalo last weekend, while the Raiders picked up an impressive victory over the Jets. Both of these teams have lost by three to the Bills in the last two weeks, and both teams enter this game with a 2-1 record. Can Hue Jackson and the Raiders take the next step? The Raiders will look to take down two of the AFC East’s best in consecutive weeks, while the Patriots will look to get back on track.
New England jumped out to a huge 21-0 lead last weekend in Buffalo, but Tom Brady’s four interceptions helped the Bills come back and win 34-31. Brady may have had an off Sunday last week, but he still has been tremendous so far this season. He is completing 70% of his passes and he already has 1,327 yards in just three games. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been the primary running back for the Patriots this season. Green-Ellis hasn’t been spectacular, but he does keep defenses honest. Wes Welker has a ridiculous 31 catches in just three games. Chad Ocho Cinco has only five catches, and he seems to be having trouble fitting in with this system.
The Patriots have a lot of fresh faces on the defense. The run defense has been solid this year, but the secondary has been terrible. Through three games New England has allowed more passing yards per game than any other team in the NFL. The safety positions stand out as the team’s biggest weakness at this point.
Oakland improved last year, but the team is looking to take it to the next level under Jackson this year. The clear strength of this football team is its ability to run the football. The Raiders have a very physical front line, and they do a great job in run blocking. Darren McFadden has turned into an absolute star in the backfield. McFadden has both great speed and size to run through arm tackles. McFadden is averaging an amazing 6.4 yards per carry so far this season. Jason Campbell isn’t being asked to do too much right now, but he has done a nice job taking care of the football.
The Raiders defense lost a key member when Nnamdi Asomugha left town in the offseason. Michael Huff is a good strong safety, but much of this secondary is now young and inexperienced. They’ll be tested in a big way this week. The Raiders defensive front is strong. Richard Seymour leads a group that does a get job getting after the opposing quarterback.
Can the Raiders put pressure on Tom Brady in this one? If they can, I think the Raiders have a real chance to win this game. I expect McFadden and the Raiders running game to move the ball quite well against New England. I’ll take the home underdog here.
Free NFL Pick: Oakland +4.5
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