If the NFL playoffs started Sunday, the Raiders would be a wild-card team traveling to Houston.
Thanks to Cleveland’s win Thursday night over Pittsburgh, and their head-to-head tie-breaker win against Indianapolis, the Raiders currently own the “6” seed.
But let’s get greedy. If the Raiders take care of business Sunday against Cincinnati—they are 10½-point favorite—and if the Chargers upset the Chiefs on Monday night at México City, the Raiders would vault to first place in the AFC West, a half-game ahead of the Chiefs.
I love to dream, because I’m also holding a 13-1 ticket for the Raiders winning the division, not to mention an “over” marker on Jon Gruden and the Raiders exceeding six wins this season.
Having a healthy offensive line Sunday should pave the way for another 100-yard rushing game for rookie Josh Jacobs. The Bengals have not stopped a running back yet. Last week Baltimore rushed for 5.9 yards a pop against the Bengals, including a 47-yard TD run by Lamar Jackson.
Speaking of the Ravens, one of the marquee attractions Sunday features their home game against Houston and Deshaun Watson. Riding a five-game winning streak, the Ravens are favored by four. Besides good quarterbacks, both have positive turnover differentials: Ravens 4; Texans 3.
I’m taking the Ravens, and here’s the clincher: teams coming off a game in London and then a bye are 0-6 both straight up and ATS. That list includes the Raiders, the Bears, the Bucs, the Panthers, the Rams and the Bengals. This week, both Houston and Jacksonville (at Indianapolis) qualify.
My three-team, seven-point teaser this week: Falcons plus 12½, Cardinals plus 17½ and Bears plus 13½.
I am especially fond of the Falcons. Matt Ryan is 6-1 in his last seven starts against the Panthers, and the Falcons demonstrated last week at New Orleans that they are better than their 1-7 start.
Cash some tickets this weekend, because that’s what it’s all about.