Three VSiN NFL handicappers weigh in on Saturday night’s game between the Dolphins and Raiders in Las Vegas:
Youmans: If not for an early Christmas gift from Jets, the Raiders (7-7) would be riding a five-game losing streak. Las Vegas’ injury list is lengthy and it includes quarterback Derek Carr, who’s pushing to play despite a groin injury. Raiders coach Jon Gruden needs to park Carr and see what he’s got in Marcus Mariota, who played well in the Dec. 17 overtime loss to the Chargers. Mariota passed for 226 yards and a touchdown in relief, and his running ability (88 yards and a touchdown) boosted the offense. Mariota would give a good Dolphins defense (No. 1 in the NFL in scoring at 18.4 ppg) something extra to worry about this week.
Miami rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa has struggled recently with a banged-up supporting cast. Obviously, there is more incentive to win for the Dolphins as they desperately chase a playoff spot, but that angle is creating a little line value with the home underdog. This is more of a lean than a best bet, and I prefer Mariota get the start for the Raiders.
Pick: Raiders +3.
Dinsick: The prime-time game on Saturday features a Miami team that is fighting to hold the seventh and final seed in the AFC playoff picture taking on a Raiders team in Las Vegas that was effectively eliminated by its Week 15 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. This game sets up well for Tagovailoa to find his best performance of the season as he will likely have weapons in the passing game returning and this will be by far the least impressive defense he’s faced in his short professional career.
The Raiders are still undecided at quarterback, but it may not matter considering how well the offensive line and rushing attack match up against a Dolphins defense that struggles to stop the ground game. Expecting this one to shape up as a shoot-out where the team that can execute late prevails. The total is staggeringly low, however, at 47.5 and it’s a fair play to the over.
Pick: Over 47.5
Tuley: A few weeks ago, it looked as if the Raiders were heading to the playoffs and they would have been favored in this matchup (and the Westgate’s advance line had the Raiders -2 just last week). I’m OK if Mariota starts, but the Dolphins’ defense continues to impress, so this line is still a little short for me even though it’s gone up to a field goal as of early Tuesday. This is a good spot to tease the Raiders up to + 8.5 or 9, and this is also a good spot to list our other recommended 6-point teaser portfolio for the week (we went 5-1 with our recommended teasers last week at VSiN.com, so hopefully readers continue to play these): Broncos up to +9 at Chargers, Texans down to -2 vs. Bengals, Steelers up to + 7.5 vs. the Colts, Bears down to -1.5 at the Jaguars, Panthers up to +8.5 at Washington, Rams up to +8 at the Seahawks and Cowboys up to +7.5 vs. the Eagles.
Pick: Pass, except for Raiders in teaser.
Matt Youmans, Drew Dinsick and Dave Tuley write for VSiN.com, The Sports Betting Network.