Free NFL Picks Houston at Oakland 10-3-2010

September 30, 2010

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Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders

October 3rd 2010 4:05 PM EST

The Line: Houston -3 1/2

Overview:

The Houston Texans looked terrible against the Cowboys. I’m not sure how much of that was the Cowboys putting it all together and how much was the Texans losing their cool. As it stands the Texans are 2-1, including a field goal in overtime to put away the Redskins. The Raiders lost a painful one last week. A few botched kicks by Sebastian Janikowski resulted in a Raider loss to the Cardinals. This match up is about earning respect for the Raiders. It’s about retaining it for the Texans.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Raiders can win with Bruce Gradkowski. His team believes in him, even though his physical assets might not be as outstanding as the Raiders are accustomed to. He has the support of his team. Gradkowski has a Doug Flutieness about him. It seems like when he is in the huddle, the o-line blocks better, the receivers run better routes, and everyone gets crisper. If the Raiders utilize their talent at receiver, they could be dangerous down the field.
  • You probably won’t see the ball in the air that much from either team. The running backs on both teams have had similar seasons. Arian Foster went from practice squad to leading the NFL in rushing this year with 406 yards. Darren McFadden disappointed fans when he struggled early on in his career, but he now averages 115 yards a game this season. With both offenses figuring out how to slash opposing defenses, this entire game could come down to who has a better game on the ground. The Texans have a great front seven. They rank 2nd in rush defense in the NFL. The Raiders rank 24th in rush defense. The Texans have a fantastic passing game, but the Raiders’ secondary is the strength of their team. If the Texans can get it going with Arian Foster, Andre Johnson’s services won’t be relied on as heavily as they have been.
  • Mario Williams needs to get back on track. He was a non- factor last week, one week after he destroyed the Redskins with three sacks. He is a cornerstone of their defense and an elite pass rusher. He is going to be double teamed, but his team needs him to be a disruption. Making plays in the backfield is going to cause disarray amongst the Raider offense. In the West Coast offense, eliminating the short game pulls the plug on the offense.

Wrap up:

Both teams are difficult to read for these sports picks. The Texans can compete with the best teams in the NFL, while the Raiders can lose to the worst teams in the NFL. The Raiders ceiling is not as high as the Texans floor, so I give the nod to the Texans. Arian Foster is going to be impressive and Darren McFadden should struggle. Unless Gradkowski gets something going down the field, you won’t see any cohesion on the Raider sideline.

Free NFL Pick: Houston -3 1/2



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