Detroit Lions vs Oakland Raiders: DET -2.5 (5Dimes)
CoachesAt the start of the preseason some were speculating that Jim Schwartz would be taking a different approach this year after finally establishing a "winning" program. He entered this year with a sparkling 10-2 NFLX record and dropped the first game vs the Browns. Yet, the Lions should have won that game and they followed it up with a strong road effort in Baltimore. Schwartz has a perfect 3-0 record in Week 3 of the preseason and I like that trend to continue Saturday.
Dennis Allen is doing his best to turn things around in the post Al-Davis era, but he's 0-2 so far to start the 2012 preseason.
MarketsThis game opened at pick em and early action has come flying in on the Lions. The majority of the public bets are also coming in on the road team. Right now you can still get Detroit -2.5 with a bit extra juice, or you can take the -3 at even money. I would still make this a play at -3, but anything over that and I'd pass.
On the flip side we have Carson Palmer. The Oakland brass want you to believe that he's still "learning the offense", and some of that might be true, but that's not what I took away after seeing him in the two games so far. Palmer is simply a bad quarterback. He continues to be erratic with his decision-making and doesn't have the kind of accuracy and zip to compensate for his short-comings anymore. Compounding his problems is the fact that Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore are all banged up and questionable for the game. Through two games, Palmer has yet to lead them to a touchdown.
Matt Leinart has fared better thanks to his familiarity with Greg Knapp's system, but even he is banged up after cutting his finger. He is expected to play on Saturday and it might even be an upgrade over what Palmer can offer.
Loose EndsIf the Raiders are going to make a game of this they'll be relying on their defense and the wheels of Darren McFadden. They certainly have the pass rush to pose some problems for Stafford and company, but their biggest concern is in their secondary. The back end has no one that can come close to slowing down Calvin Johnson, and if they put too many bodies on him it will open up the field for guys like Brandon Pettigrew, Titus Young, Nate Bureleson, and Ryan Broyles. This is a passing-dominated game at the moment and the Raiders are lacking in that area on both sides of the ball.
Oakland will be hoping that the Lions continue to take penalties and tackle poorly in the second half - something Detroit has done in each of the first two games. The first half has been a different story as the first and second team defense has yet to allow a touchdown.
PickVery simply, the Raiders are still trying to figure out all the puzzle pieces. The Lions have a lot of continuity both on the coaching staff and throughout the lineup. The starters won't play the whole game, but they will play enough to exploit the mismatches in the air. As long as they enter the 4th quarter with a lead, I don't see Leinart outscoring Hill - and it would be an added bonus if Terrelle Pryor got some extra action.
NFL Pick: DET -2.5
The rest of my Week 3 predictions are here, or you can find all my 2012 predictions on the home page main menu.