Free NFL Picks Oakland at San Francisco 10-17-2010

October 14, 2010


Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers

Sunday October 17th, 2010 4:15 PM EST

Line: San Francisco -6 1/2


The Raiders come into the game at 2-3, including an impressive win over San Diego last week. The 49ers have not impressed anyone at any point during the season. They are a miserable 0-5 and have not been able to put anything together this season. After finishing 8-8 last season and playing in by far the worst division in the NFL, hopes were high for the 49ers. They limp into this game, hoping to walk away from this season with some sort of dignity and maybe even their head coach.

Keys to the Game:

  • The 49ers need to stop throwing the ball away. The reason they won last year with Shaun Hill is because he could come in and manage the game. They ran the ball well and the team rallied around each other. The 49ers didn’t like condensing their playbook, so they went with the bigger arm, Alex Smith, and drove Hill out of town. Smith leads the NFL with nine interceptions. To make matters worse, he seems to decide to turn the ball over at the worst times. He looks like a solid quarterback in the beginning of games. He plays well once his team is out of contention. Everything in between is muddled. The 49ers put all of their faith in Alex Smith. They passed on a chance to snag Donovan McNabb. They didn’t draft a quarterback throughout the entire draft. They made Smith’s quarterback coach the offensive coordinator because they felt he could play to Smith’s strengths and make him feel comfortable. The ship has sailed for Alex Smith. Great character guy, hard worker, excellent teammate, just not a great NFL quarterback.
  • May the best defense win. The 49ers have the talent to have a top five defense, but their offense is constantly making their lives miserable. The Raiders have the personnel to have an elite pass defense, but they were humiliated against San Diego last week. Both teams are going to produce offensively. Both offenses will surely produce, so it is up to the defenses to make a stand. Both teams have given up huge amounts of points in their games thus far. Neither team has a talented enough offense to overcome their defensive struggles. The 49ers allow 26 points a game, while the Raiders allow 26.8. That is not going to equate to too many wins for either team. Whichever defense steps up in the one is going to get the victory.
  • The 49ers offense is succeeding at every area other than quarterback. Their offensive line is nothing but first and second round players. They are improving every week and gaining confidence with their newly found continuity. Frank Gore does everything out of the backfield. He is their workhorse on the ground, solid in pass protection, and has great hands. Vernon Davis is one of the most talented tight ends in the league. He creates mismatches that are impossible to avoid. Last week, he had 104 yards. Michael Crabtree put up 105 of his own, along with nine receptions. With everyone playing at such a high level, it is hard for Alex Smith to put his team in a position to lose, but he does his best.
  • The Raiders are one dimensional. They run the ball and they hit the tight end. The receivers are out there, but their focus on offense is running the ball. In their victory over the Chargers, Michael Bush stepped in for the injured Darren McFadden and ran for 104 yards. McFadden reenters the lineup on Sunday, but his touches will be limited. The Raiders can pride themselves on their ability to run the ball. The 49ers will have to focus on stopping the run first and foremost. If they succeed, the Raiders will look to tight end Zach Miller to find holes in the coverage. The 49ers have athletic linebackers that will be able to contain Miller, but he is going to produce regardless.

Wrap Up:

It is very hard to say a team that is 0-5 is the favorite, let alone a 6 1/2 point favorite. The 49ers haven’t faced a team that had a losing record at kickoff all year long. They have lost at home twice already this year, but the Raiders are by far the worst team they have faced all year. I like what the 49ers could accomplish, but making them a big favorite based on the inevitability that they will one day win a game is irresponsible. The 49ers might win, but it won’t be by a touchdown.

Free NFL Pick: Oakland +6 1/2

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