Raiders vs Bills – NFL Pick for October 29th
The 2017 NFL season has been a slow burn for yours truly. I’m off to an ugly 2-6 record thanks to a litany of brutal bad beats.
One such bad beat was Aaron Rodgers going down for the year two weeks ago, another was the Jaguars not taking down the Jets and last week we saw the Panthers not even show up in a shocking 17-3 loss to the Chicago Bears.
It’s been a trying run, but we’re ready to turn the corner. We get solid value this week with the Oakland Raiders at +110 as they try to go into Buffalo to snag a win. Bovada and other NFL betting sites have the Bills as -130 home favorites with a -3 spread advantage, but Oakland is looking like a fun underdog option on this slate.
Derek Carr looks like he’s healthy again after dismantling the Kansas City Chiefs a week ago. That clutch 31-30 win pushed the Raiders back into play in the AFC East and the playoff picture in general. A loss to the Bills would drop Oakland back down and potentially kill their ambitious Super Bowl hopes.
Buffalo, meanwhile, is trying to stay near the top of the AFC East. Things have worked out well so far, as the Bills come into week 8 with a nice 4-2 record and have displayed one of the stingiest defenses in the league.
Our knee-jerk instinct is to roll with the Raiders here. Oakland looked fantastic on offense last week and it doesn’t make much sense for their heroics in week 7 to immediately go to waste with a loss to the Bills.
The value is also pretty nice here. Ahead of the season, the Raiders were among the top Super Bowl contenders and if it hadn’t been for a Derek Carr back injury, it’s fair to wonder if they’d be where they are now.
There is also the concern that the Bills are playing beyond their actual talent level right now. The Bills haven’t been to the playoffs since 1999 and after losing some talent over the offseason, few had them as a real threat to change that in 2017.
I’m still not a buyer there. The Bills have some big wins on their resume already this season, but they have a tall order in trying to shut down a Raiders passing game that came back to life a week ago.
There are two key reasons to back the Raiders in this spot, simply based off of their passing game. The first is the fact that Amari Cooper is back to being a stud. After racking up over 200 receiving yards in his last game, he may finally be over his early season struggles.
If Cooper is ready to be the game-changer he’s supposed to be, pretty much everyone in the AFC is in trouble. He dominated in the face of a brutal matchup with Marcus Peters last week, which hypothetically puts him in position to win any matchup going forward.
Fortunately (our second reason), the Raiders get a leaky Bills pass defense in week 8. Buffalo has been strong as a whole defensively, but they have still allowed the 7th most passing yards per game. In addition, they have not exhibited a consistently elite pass rush, which works hand in hand with the idea that Oakland could have their way through the air this week.
Buffalo’s saving grace is their run defense and their own ability to control the tempo of the game with LeSean McCoy and their own rushing attack. The Bills have been quite stingy on the ground defensively (6th against the run) and have the tools to be just as menacing on the ground on offense.
That could end up being a problem for the Raiders if they try to run the ball in this one, but with Marshawn Lynch serving a one-game ban and Oakland’s rushing game struggling on the year, it’s likely Carr will take it to the air early and often.
The trick here is if the Bills fall into a hole early with Carr pushing the pace, they’ll be in serious trouble. Carr’s ability to carve up a beatable Bills secondary would then open the door to Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington finding enough success against the Buffalo run defense to get another big road win.
In other words, if you’re betting on the Bills, you’re banking on Tyrod Taylor doing enough damage to keep Oakland’s run defense honest. Based on Taylor’s history with the Bills and shaky production in 2017, that’s not a bet we’re excited to take.
Instead, let’s ride the Raiders as they heat up and chase down a .500 record.