Oakland Raiders (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Week 4 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: M&T Bank Stadium
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: OAK +3.5/BAL -3.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
The Oakland Raiders come to MT&T Bank Stadium on Sunday to face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Both teams won on Sunday and are looking for better results this season after some recent tough times. The Ravens are 3-0 and coming off a tough 19-17 road win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, where a late 54-yard field goal saved the win and kept them unbeaten. Oakland recovered from a week two home loss to the Falcons with a big road win over the Titans, 17-10. They are now 2-1 and a win on the road here could get them rolling.
The Ravens were pretty fortunate to emerge from week three with the road win over the Jags. In the fourth quarter and trialing, they committed three turnovers in the quarter and still salvaged the win, as the defense continually stifled the Jaguars in key late spots. And the late push was key, with Justin Tucker nailing a tough FG for the close win. Tucker also nailed three other key field goals on the afternoon. Joe Flacco connected on 21 straight throws, though his late-game picks threatened to derail the team effort. Again, Flacco is not able to lean on much of a run-game, with Terrance West and Justin Forsett providing lukewarm support. Through the air, there is some support, with Steve Smith, Sr. still solid, resurgent tight end Dennis Pitta, and first-year Raven Mike Wallace.
Key to the Ravens' success is a defense that was really left in tatters last season, giving up over 400 points. In three games this season, they've given up 44 points. Other than a bizarre rough first quarter against Cleveland where the Baltimore offense left them in bad positions, they've been really tough. The defense has secured 5 picks over the last two games. The pass-rush is rounding back into shape, as Terrell Suggs had two on Sunday. For a second straight game, linebacker CJ Mosley had a pick. Also at LB, Zachary Orr was all over the field and had an interception. They've really come around and if they can remain healthy, look for a typical good Baltimore defense to manifest.
Baltimore might not have all the elements of a great team. Their offense can be a bit dicey and with Forsett no longer delivering consistently, they have to rely on the air-attack, which isn't easy to do with the pass-catching crew they have. But with great leadership on the team throughout the roster, a burgeoning defense, and good coaching, the Ravens are a team that could surprise some people and they already have. At the same time, beating the Bills, Browns, and Jaguars by a combined 13 points is hardly grounds for a revival.
Oakland is looking to make a move now at 2-1. The win on Sunday over the Titans was important on many fronts. One was that the defense looked capable of stopping something. The yardage they gave up in weeks one and two was alarming on a historic level. They made it hard on Mariota on Sunday, with the Titans managing only ten points at home. The Raiders "D" finally got something cooking with three turnovers. And on a late Tennessee drive, they were resolute enough to keep the Titans out of the end zone. The defense did give up a big day to DeMarco Murray on the ground, but everyone else on the Tennessee offense struggled, with Mariota under 50% completions, no TDs, and two picks, with Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith getting the interceptions. Coach Jack Del Rio made a few moves in the lineup and his expertise on this side of the ball finally started paying off.
On the road against an improved Tennessee defense that allowed just one TD through their first two games, the Raiders did enough. It wasn't a game for them to thrive, but it was an important development to see the Raiders thrive in a low-scoring game. RB Latavius Murray ran in a 22-yarder in the first quarter in a big early play. Seth Roberts caught the other TD. Michael Crabtree was over 100 yards, while Amari Cooper had 62 yards receiving. QB Derek Carr was not in his best form, but on the road against a good defense, he remained resolute. In the last two weeks, rookie running back DeAndre Washington has added 103 yards on just 13 carries and adds an interesting dimension to the offense.
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This is an important game for Oakland, as they all are. But at 2-1, they can either start ascending this week with a road win over an unbeaten team. At 3-1, they'd have some room to work with, as some divisional games are coming up. At 2-2, they'd still be in that striving-mode, searching for something that might or might not come. Not to blow this game into more that it is. But teams like Oakland that have been positioning themselves to make a move for a few years now at some point need to start delivering and make it all come together. A win this week would go a long way toward doing that,
We just can't expect the Ravens to get all complacent suddenly. After a few subpar seasons, including an embarrassing 2015 season where the Ravens really bottomed out, they seem poised to make a move this season and they should be fired out of a cannon, rather than rest on their 3-0 laurels. There are still a lot of people on that sideline who know what it takes to win a championship. I just think against Oakland, we'll start to see some of their shortcomings, with the Raiders getting the road-cover.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Oakland Raiders plus 3.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Raiders vs. Ravens game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!