Must Bet Preseason Week 3 Expert Pick
The Oakland Raiders play their first home preseason game of the season on Saturday night vs. the Tennessee Titans and it’s nationally televised by CBS. It’s an interesting season in Oakland as the Raiders could be leaving town after the 2016 campaign for Los Angeles — if the San Diego Chargers decide to stay in that city if they get a new stadium. We won’t know for sure the future of the Bolts or Raiders until a November vote in San Diego. The Raiders should open around 3-point favorites on NFL lines vs. Tennessee.
Here’s the Must Bet Preseason Week 3 Expert Pick
Oakland won its preseason opener 31-10 at Arizona but then lost last Thursday at Green Bay 20-12 even though the Packers didn’t play star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Derek Carr ran Oakland’s offense for a half Thursday, but wasn’t effective. The third-year starter completed 9 of 13 passes for just 38 yards and had an underthrown pass to standout receiver Amari Cooper picked off by Damarious Randall. QB Connor Cook, the team’s fourth-round draft pick, went 6 of 9 for 101 yards. Receiver Seth Roberts led all Raiders players with 34 snaps at Green Bay, eight more than the second-most number of plays, and he had a game-high 50 yards receiving on four catches.
“I thought we did some good things defensively, after the first drive,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “We got some conditioning there. Everybody came out healthy. We learned some lessons there. I think it’s a part of work in the preseason, looking at a lot of different players, and the evaluation continues.”
The top job up for grabs on the team is at right tackle and Menelik Watson apparently has the lead for that. Watson has been ahead of Austin Howard since training camp opened. He would have been the starter last year but Howard filled in after Watson tore his Achilles’.
“I think it’s great to have Menelik back,” said Del Rio. “He brings a little temperament, a little athleticism to the position.”
Meanwhile, DeAndre Washington has grabbed hold of the Raiders’ No. 2 running back job. He was listed behind Taiwan Jones on the Raiders’ initial depth chart and played behind Jamize Olawale in the preseason opener, but Washington has emerged into the driver’s seat behind Latavius Murray.
Tennessee beat visiting San Diego 27-10 in Week 1 of the preseason and then lost 26-16 at home to Carolina on Saturday so this will be the Titans’ first road preseason game. Against the Panthers, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota directed three series and went 9 of 10 for 104 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Mariota is 14 of 15 through two preseason games. His completion percentage is 93.3, and his passer rating is 102.5.
For the second week in a row, however, the Titans were sloppy early on defense. And the Titans also committed a pair of turnovers – one near Carolina’s end zone, and once near their own end zone. Wide receiver Tajae Sharpe strengthened his bid for a starting spot, as the fifth-round pick from UMass had six catches for 68 yards while Mariota was in the game. Rookie running back Derrick Henry added 31 yards rushing. Henry’s longest run of the game was a 13-yard play up the middle on a first-and- 5 at the start of the third quarter. New offensive linemen Dennis Kelly saw his first action with the Titans. He was acquired from Philadelphia in the trade for receiver Dorial Green-Beckham last week.
The Titans are hopeful that starting receiver Kendall Wright (hamstring) will resume practicing this week. Their target date for return is Wednesday, which is probably too late for Wright to play vs. Oakland. Tennessee hosted Oakland in Week 12 of the 2015 regular season and the Raiders won 24-21. Carr threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Roberts with 1:21 left after Oakland appeared to turn it over on downs. The Titans had rallied from 17-6 hole to lead 21-17 and thought they had won when safety Michael Griffin broke up a pass in the end zone on fourth down on the Raiders’ final drive. But officials flagged B.W. Webb for holding on the other side of the field.
Go Oakland at home here on NFL lines.