It’s still very early, but this isn’t the start the Oakland Raiders were looking for when handing over a good chunk of money to lure Jon Gruden out of the broadcast booth and back onto the sideline. At 0-2 the Raiders continue their road trip with a visit to the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. The Fins are an early season surprise after opening with a pair of victories to lead the AFC East, and with a game against New England coming up the following week they better not overlook the Silver and Black.
This regular season matchup in Week 3 will take place on Sunday, September 23, 2018, at 1 p.m. ET at Hard Rock Stadium.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
Oakland Raiders +3
Miami Dolphins -3
There’s been no change to the line, which opened as the Dolphins favored by the value of home field advantage. Miami is 2-0 SU and ATS but it’s the Raiders who have received the early attention with 60 percent of the wagers backing the visitors. The total was wagered down from its opening of 44 to the current 43.5.
Josh Sitton – The tenure of the offensive lineman didn’t last long after Sitton was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. “Does it change things? Absolutely,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said about the impending absence of Sitton, who signed as a free agent during the offseason to bolster the line and help with the culture change in the locker room. Ted Larsen moves into the starting role and the team will not look for outside help according to Adam Gase, who said, “I like my group.”
Justin Ellis – The Raiders put Ellis on injured reserve with an injury sustained in the opener and they were also without P.J. Hall, leaving them short two starting defensive linemen. Brian Price and Maurice Hurst started in their place Sunday with newly signed Johnathan Hankins and Clinton McDonald getting playing time. The Raiders were pushed around up front in their loss to Denver, surrendering 168 yards on the ground.
Matchup to Watch
Any concerns about Derek Carr were laid to rest after a scintillating performance in Denver. The game plan was simple and two-fold. One, avoid the Broncos pass rush with quick, short strikes. And two, get Amari Cooper engaged. The Raiders were able to do both unfortunately they didn’t get a win. After his shaky outing in the opener, some thought Carr was gun shy given his recent injury activity. But he hung in against the Broncos, completing 29 of 32 for 288 yards and a touchdown.
Cooper was the favorite target catching all 10 of his targets for 116 yards, a week after getting three targets against the Rams. Carr will face a Dolphins defense that allowed 334 passing yards to Sam Darnold last week, but made life difficult for the rookie with constant pressure from a four-man front. Oakland’s offensive line is considered one of the best and the group held its own against Denver. The Raiders can get to the Fins by making them rush an extra defender, in turn creating seams in the secondary.
For the second straight week the Raiders led at halftime, and for the second straight week they gave the game away in the final 30 minutes. Over their two games Oakland has been outscored 43-7 in the second half and as a result they have yet to win a game.
Holding a 13-10 edge at the intermission over the Rams in the opener, the Raiders were blitzed in the second half and outscored 23-0. The defense crumbled again in Denver, losing a 12-0 halftime bulge and surrendering 10 points in the final six minutes to watch that game slip away.
Free ATS Pick
If the Raiders can play a complete game they’ll be competitive. It’s been a tale of two halves in the early going and while they’ve slowed opponents down in the first 30 minutes, the lack of a playmaking defender has allowed teams to regroup in the second 30 minutes. The absence of Khalil Mack will be felt for some time.
I’m not convinced the Dolphins are a threat and I like the Raiders to bust out in this one. Carr looked more comfortable last week, however, the big play was missing. I expect the Raiders to find it on Sunday against a Fins squad that doesn’t have the defensive talent of the Rams and Broncos. Take the Raiders outright with a 3-point bonus and look for the teams to exceed the total.
NFL Betting Odds: Raiders 26, Dolphins 21
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