Friday, August 16, 2013

NFL Preseason Predictions 2013: Raiders vs Saints

Oakland Raiders vs New Orleans Saints: NO -6 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

The line in this game opened at -6 and we haven't really seen much movement since. Some books have pushed it to -6.5, but the real question is where it will go on game day? It's hard to imagine a late push on the Raiders, but -6 is high for a preseason game so keep an eye on things leading up to kick off.

Coaching

Not much stands out when you look at the coaching records of these coaches in the preseason (at least for the first two weeks). Sean Payton is 16-15, while Dennis Allen is 2-3.

Motivation

When it comes to motivation, there are some things that stand out for each coach though.

Dennis Allen doesn't believe in resting or protecting his stars. He might want to rethink that philosophy once he sees his offensive line in action on Friday, but his old school approach is unique in today's day and age.

Sean Payton is much more traditional in his approach. He's 6-1 in the Week 3 dress rehearsal and 1-6 in the throwaway Week 4 games.  This week he's said that he wants his team to play much faster and efficiently than Week 1. He also told his team that this is an important game for a lot of players - especially at the backup quarterback position.  I expect them to have a much better outing this time around on both sides of the ball.

Quarterbacks

Speaking of backup quarterbacks, the Saints have a competitive battle going on for the right to prep behind Drew Brees.  In Week 1 Luke McCown had a strong performance while Seneca Wallace was sidelined with an injury. This week, Wallace will get most of the backup reps and the pressure is on to match or exceed McCown.

For the Raiders, things get a little bit more interesting. Matt Flynn gets the start, but there are a wide range of opinions of how he did last week. Some say he showed good command of the offense and created some movement down field. Others (including myself) weren't wearing rose-colored glasses. I wasn't that impressed, but it's tough to draw any conclusions either way on such a small sample.

Behind him is Terrelle Pryor. Everyone is excited about his ability to run a read-option type offense, but let's not get carried away just yet. He has no notable experience and a long ways to go before he's ready.

Some even think that Matt McGloin should be ahead of him on the depth chart. McGloin has separated himself from rookie Tyler Wilson, who people are labeling as the most disappointing rookie in the division.

Will it matter?

Whoever is under center for Oakland will have to do it with a really iffy offensive line in front of them. Jarde Veldheer, their best lineman, was lost this week to a triceps tear. This puts the entire line in a bind. Alex Barron is set to replace him, but he hasn't played since 2010. That tells you everything you need to know about their other options - John Wetzal, Willie Smith, and Menelik Watson. All of these guys would be major liabilities at left tackle.

Defense anyone?

The problems for the Raiders don't stop on the offensive line or wide receivers. They are planning to use nine new starters on defense this season. Due to massive turnover and cap trouble, they found as many cheap veterans as they could find to fill the rosters spots. Their best hope is not to embarrass themselves this year.

If Drew Brees, Seneca Wallace, and Sean Payton were looking for an opportunity to make some progress, look no further than this group of Black and Silver.

Having said that, it's not all peaches and cream for New Orleans. They have their own set of defensive issues as well. The Saints defense was so bad last year it's not even worth rehashing. With Rob Ryan in town, it's a fresh new start and a whole new scheme.  The good news is they are bound to improve on this side of the ball. The bad news is we'll see some growing pains in this game.

Bottom Line

Some of the worst NFL teams sparkle in the preseason, but I'd be surprised if that was the case in this game. The Raiders simply have too many problems in too many areas on both sides of the ball. The Saints don't have a great pass rush, but it shouldn't be too difficult to disrupt this hapless offensive line and make life difficult for the Oakland QBs all night.

Drew Brees should be able to put a couple scoring drives together and Seneca Wallace is experienced enough to move the chains during his extended playing time.

It's a lot to lay 6 points in the preseason, but I see more than enough good reasons to do so.

NFL Pick: NO -6.