Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:30 PM EST.
1:00 PM EST. We made our case against the 2017 Raiders when we posted them to finish under the posted win total earlier this week. With that in mind, we will look to fade them Week 1 at Tennessee. Here is an excerpt from that previous article:
We’re always preaching that nobody can predict the outcome of games because of in-game variance that causes so many twists and turns in almost every football game. Thus, teams that were very fortunate last year are in line for regression while teams’ that got unlucky are in line for improvement. We’ll now take that information and apply it to Oakland’s season win total to easily go under the number.
How many times have you heard this, “Whoever wins the turnover battle will win the game”?. Turnovers won or lost is not a skill. The Raiders were opportunistic enough to produce the league's sixth-best takeaway rate on a per-possession basis. Combined with Derek Carr chopping his interception rate in half, the Raiders' turnover differential hit plus-16, which was tied with the Chiefs for the best mark in the league. Winning the turnover battle wins games but turnover margin from year to year is markedly inconsistent. Need proof? From 1989 to 2015, there were 41 teams to post a turnover differential between plus-15 and plus-20. Their average turnover margin was plus-17.3. The following year, those teams had an average turnover differential of plus-2.3. They fell off by an average of 15 turnovers. Apply that to the Raiders last year and maybe they’re a .500 team. We say that because the Raiders, not coincidentally, were one of the best teams in close games in recent memory. Jack Del Rio's team went 8-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer. Now apply the turnover margin to that and it should come as no surprise that teams’ with that sort of record also struggle to keep it up. The bottom line is that Oakland got very lucky last year and expectations are high this year.
The Titans are a team on the rise. The reason Tennessee went from a three-win team to a 9-7 club is because of a much-improved offense that saw them go from dead last in DOVA in 2015 to a top-10 unit last season. The Titans have done it with a nice mix of both the run and pass with both areas seeing a dramatic increase in production. The Titans' brass spent most of their top draft picks this past April on targets for quarterback Marcus Mariota. The reason for the influx of new players is because, despite their improvement, the Titans were a two-dimensional offense last season. Either they lined up with extra blockers with Mariota under center or he was in the shotgun with just five pass blockers. The Titans used offensive sets with seven or more blockers 43% of the time last season but the passing game wasn't nearly as good as it was in the gun but head coach Mike Mularkey is committed to playing in the “base” offense which requires Mariota to be under center more often than not.
As situational bettors, we must look to over and under-reactions. With the Raiders getting so much preseason hype, they have entered the public conscious as a real threat in the AFC. When looking at this line, it's really easy to turn your eyes to the 12-win Raiders and take back a field goal against a team that has been off the radar for years and is considered to be dull. David Carr and company put up big fantasy numbers last season but man for man, we’re strongly suggesting that the Titans are the better team, especially on defense. Now thrown in home-field advantage and there is real value in the balanced Titans at this short price.
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TENNESSEE -3 +100 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.00)