The Las Vegas Raiders will host their first NFL game on Monday Night Football, getting under a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints.
What the best bets on the game?
Our handicappers Matt Youmans and Drew Disnick give their opinions on the game.
New Orleans Saints (-6, 51) at Las Vegas Raiders
Youmans: As Brent Musburger might say, you will be looking live at the first-ever Monday Night Football game in Las Vegas. Musburger, the radio voice of the Raiders, will be calling the action in a new $2 billion stadium with no fans. This would be a better play if the home underdog could draw energy from a pumped-up crowd, but it’s a play anyway.
Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs ran the offense according to coach Jon Gruden’s plan in Week 1, when Carr completed 22 of 30 passes for 239 yards and one touchdown with no picks or sacks. Jacobs was a downhill runner while also making four receptions for 46 yards. He rushed for a league-high three touchdowns and was tied for the second-most carries (25) and sixth-most yards (93) among all NFL running backs. The 34-30 win at Carolina reinforced Gruden's commitment to the running attack. The Raiders have an established identity on offense, unlike the new-look Buccaneers and Tom Brady, who got picked on by the New Orleans defense in the opener.
Will the Raiders encounter troubles trying to contain Drew Brees and the Saints? Of course. However, Brees was not that sharp against Tampa Bay (18-for-30, 160 yards, two touchdowns) and rarely made throws downfield (5.3 yards per attempt). Now, Brees will be missing top wideout Michael Thomas, who had only three receptions in the opener. In fact, Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders combined for six catches and 32 yards. A good case can be made for the underdog, and I’ll predict the Saints escape with a win by a field goal.
Pick: Raiders + 5.5/+ 6
Dinsick: The Las Vegas Raiders pulled out the cover in Week 1 against a feisty Panthers team on the back of a top three offensive performance as both the passing game and the running game looked to be in midseason form; the Raiders were fifth in both rushing and passing expected points added (EPA). The Saints, on the other hand, were aided by opponent special teams miscues and a gifted pick-six by Tom Brady that fueled their cover in the opener.
Drew Brees finished below league-average in both Expected Points Added per Play (EPA/p) and Completion Percentage Over Expectation (CPOE), where he was 23rd and 31st respectively. Thomas will be absent in this contest which will ease the pressure on the Raiders weak pass defense, setting up Las Vegas as a live dog in their franchise home opener.
Pick: Raiders + 5.5