Three of VSiN’s NFL handicappers take a look at a couple of games on the Sunday slate.
Buffalo Bills at Las Vegas Raiders
Youmans: The improved play of quarterback Josh Allen has been the most encouraging sign for the Bills. Allen ranks second in the NFL in passing yards (1,038), is tied for sixth in completion percentage (71.1) and has 10 touchdown passes with one interception. He’s a dangerous runner, too, and the Las Vegas defense is not stopping the run.
When thinking about the reputation of the Buffalo defense, this seems to be a bad matchup for the Raiders. Buffalo’s defense, however, ranks a disappointing 27th against the pass, allowing 274.7 yards per game.
The Bills’ 3-0 record means little because they beat the Jets, Dolphins and Rams — and would have lost to the Rams in Week 3 if not for a dubious pass-interference call in the final minute that allowed Allen a gift-wrapped chance to pass for the winning score.
I have not upgraded the Bills’ power rating and have boosted the Raiders’ rating only one point from the preseason. Injuries are a problem for the Las Vegas defense and offensive line, so monitor those situations.
I’ll take the points with the Raiders regardless of injuries. Derek Carr has been efficient and exceptional, ranking fourth in completion percentage (74.0) while passing for six touchdowns with no picks. Josh Jacobs gives Las Vegas the workhorse running back that Buffalo lacks. Jacobs has 68 carries for 252 yards to rank second in both categories.
Due to Carr’s accuracy and Jacobs’ aggressive running, the Raiders have the ability to control the ball and clock and stay in it with a chance to win it late.
Pick: Raiders +3.
Tuley: The Raiders look like a live home ’dog. Vegas’ lone home game so far was the Week 2 Monday night win over the Saints. In this pandemic era, we don’t expect the Raiders will benefit as much from the “Vegas Flu” that reportedly affected the Golden Knights’ opponents when that franchise first came to town, but there could be something there. Regardless, the Raiders’ best can stick with a Bills team that still looks to grind out wins.
Pick: Raiders +3.
Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dinsick: There is an amazing juxtaposition between the offseason coverage of Tampa Bay, which focused on the acquisition of Tom Brady, and the winning characteristics of the Buccaneers (2-1) which has been fueled by their stalwart defense, which ranks No. 2 in Defensive-adjusted Value over Average (DVOA). This will test Chargers rookie QB Justin Herbert, making just his third start with a limited preseason.
The Brady-led Bucs will face a difficult test of their own, matching up against the No. 11 DVOA Chargers defense, which is a huge step up from the weaker defenses they have faced to this point in the season. To make matters more dire for each offense, the Bucs will be without WR Chris Godwin, while the Chargers are likely to miss WR Mike Williams and have several key injuries on their offensive line.
From all aspects, this matchup sets up to be a field-position battle with red-zone execution and turnovers likely deciding the spread. The total, however, is still a few points too high at 42.5 (fair total 41 by my numbers).
Pick: Under 42.5.
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