Two sides coming off losses to probably the best team in each of their respective conferences but that’s pretty much where the familiarities end as these were two performances at the opposite end of the spectrum.
The Raiders were half a minute away from sweeping the World Champs before completely blowing a defensive coverage to allow Travis Kelce to stand wide open in the endzone and catch the game winner but the Raiders can take a lot of positives from their two games with the Chiefs this season having posted 30+ points on them in both games (they’ve only given up 30+ points to one other side this season) they’re also the only defense who have picked off Patrick Mahomes this season getting an INT in each game. As well as building a side made to go toe to toe with the Chiefs Gruden has also turned Derek Carr into more than the game manager he previously was, he still protects the ball well only throwing 3 INT’s this season but he holds on to the ball a little longer and takes more risks downfield which has opened up the Offense for the Raiders and is one of the primary reasons the passing game has looked good so far this season and Carr’s favourite weapon this year has been Darren Waller and I expect the athletic TE to be atop Carr’s target list in this one too at Atlanta have struggled to defend Tight End’s all season.
Atlanta on the other hand were blown out by a Saints side who were without Drew Brees and instead had Taysom Hill in at QB, a man who’s played more Special Teams than he has QB at the NFL level and they were still handily beaten as the Falcons failed to cover Michael Thomas and once again struggled to pass the ball in the absence of Julio Jones. Matt Ryan struggled against the Saints failing to throw for a TD and throwing two INT’s, the fourth time this season that Ryan has failed to throw for a TD in a game and he only has four games this season in which he’s thrown for more that a single TD in a game in what has been a real feast or famine year for the veteran QB and with Julio Jones’ availability up in the air for this one and up against an underrated Raiders pass defense we could see Ryan and the Falcons once again struggle.
I like the Raiders in this one. They’re the better football team and are still well in playoff contention whilst the Falcons are playing for pride and pride alone. I have a lot more trust in Jon Gruden scheming up something to beat this underwhelming Falcons defense than I do in Raheem Morris shutting down this Raiders attack. Atlanta have struggled all to stop not only the Tight End position but also Running Backs this season and have played in 5 games this season in which they’ve given up a TD to both their oppositions starting TE & RB whilst for the Raiders Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs have scored in the same game 4 times already this season.
PREDICTION: RAIDERS 30 – 24 FALCONS
BEST BET: Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs both to score a TD – 5/2 with SkyBet. 0.5 point bet.