Friday NFL News and Notes
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What bettors need to know: Raiders vs. Titans
Raiders at Titans (-4, O/U 35)
Oddsmakers opened the Titans as 4 1/2-point favorites but some sportsbooks have bumped that number down to as low as 3 1/2. The Raiders have covered the spread in five of the last six meetings with Tennessee, including three straight ATS wins. The total has moved up one point to 35.
Take the money and run
The Titans ran for 340 rushing against the Rams last week. And that fires up Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.
“I love the test that we have this week,” Kiffin said. “I love the matchup of a very physical team, not a team that tries to trick you. They come right out at you, so I’m really glad. It’s the perfect opponent that we can have right now.”
Oakland was 31st against the run last year and added safety Gibril Wilson and cornerback DeAngelo Hall in the offseason. The Raiders also re-signed defensive tackle Tommy Kelly to a big deal.
Run that by me again
The Raiders ran the ball well themselves in the first game, putting up 248 yards against the 49ers. Oakland also didn’t have any turnovers in the 18-6 win over San Francisco .
Rookie Darren McFadden is showing moves and speed and is a little bigger than you think at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds. Even the guy whose job he is taking is excited to watch McFadden.
“Any time you get an athlete like that, a playmaker guy, you want to see what he can do,” said Justin Fargas, who is coming off a 1,000-yard season. “You’re excited to have him, and you want to get him in position to get his hands on the ball. I think he can handle it.”
More for Russell
Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell might as well have had his cell phone with him in the game last week. He threw just five passes in two drives against the 49ers. He is expected to play the entire first half Friday and will be asked to throw much more often.
Besides backups Marques Tuiasosopo and Andrew Walter, there might be a new face at quarterback. At practice this week, the Raiders lined up McFadden at quarterback in what they call the “stag” formation.
“It’s a joy to me because I played quarterback all the way up to my sophomore year of high school,” McFadden said. “So it brings back memories for me.”
Catch it if you can
Three Tennessee receivers will be looking to make an impression on Friday.
Paul Williams is a third-round draft pick last year who didn’t dress for a single game and Biren Ealy is an undrafted free agent who played four games in 2007 and spent the rest of the season on the practice squad. Fourth-round pick Lavelle Hawkins out of California was regarded by many draft experts as a steal.
Finding help for quarterback Vince Young was a big focus for the Titans this offseason. They had only nine touchdown passes in 2007.
Their current top four doesn’t seem like too imposing a corps for the youngsters to crack.
Justin McCareins came back as a free agent to the team that drafted him in 2001 and Justin Gage signed a multiyear deal after catching 55 passes for 750 yards last season for Tennessee . Brandon Jones has been working with the first-team offense as the slot receiver, while Roydell Williams, who started 14 games last season, has only been back a week from a broken right ankle.
“We really have a chip on ou shoulder going out there, and we want to prove to everybody we can play at this high level and we can make some plays for Vince and take some pressure off him,” Gage said.
Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha injured his right foot on Tuesday but returned to practice Wednesday. He was not able to break on balls that well though. DeAngelo Hall still has a cast on his injured right hand and the Raiders are planning to have a third doctor examine the MRI and X-rays to determine if there is a break.
Meanwhile, Titans starting right tackle David Stewart underwent arthroscopic surgery Thursday and will be sidelined two to three weeks.
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Oakland (1-0 SU and ATS) at Tennessee (1-0 SU and ATS)
The Raiders make the lengthy trip to Nashville for a nationally televised Week 2 preseason meeting against the Titans at LP Field.
Oakland rolled to an 18-6 victory over crosstown rival San Francisco in Week 1, easily cashing as a one-point home favorite. The Raiders are 7-3 SU and ATS since the start of the 2006 preseason, but they are 1-5 SU and ATS in true preseason road games since 2005 (0-2 SU and ATS last year).
Tennessee opened up with an impressive 34-13 rout of the Rams, covering as a three-point home chalk. The Titans, who went 2-6 SU and ATS in August from 2005-06, have since posted a 4-1 SU and ATS preseason mark.
QB JaMarcus Russell will start for the Raiders and is expected to play the first half, followed by Andrew Walter, Marques Tuiasosopo and possibly rookie Sam Keller. Russell threw just five passes last week, completing two for 13 yards, with one sack. But the Raiders finished the game with 248 rushing yards, led by rookies Louis Rankin (eight carries, 91 yards, including a 71-yard dash) and Darren McFadden (12 carries, 48 yards).
QB Vince Young, who went 3-for-6 for 17 yards and also ripped off a 35-yard run last week, will start for the Titans and should see more time this week, playing with the starters well into the second quarter. Kerry Collins is expected to relieve Young, likely followed by Ingle Martin. Last week, Tennessee racked up 495 total yards, including 340 rushing yards, while holding the Rams to just 241 total yards.
The Raiders have now stayed under the total in 11 of their last 14 preseason games, including five of the last seven away from home. Conversely, Tennessee is on a 4-0 “over” roll in August.
ATS ADVANTAGE: TENNESSEE
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Friday's NFL Research
Oakland vs. Tennessee
I always mention the preseason with such caution, but at times it is worth a wager depending on the situation, Oakland beat San Fran 18-6 at home, Tennessee beat St. Louis in an ugly fashion 34-13 in the last ballgame, Collins and Ingle Martin looked solid for the Titans, they are both passing quarterbacks obviously so it looks Tennessee might hit the air a bit more on offense, compared to their lackadaisical offense last year, Oakland strength is their defense and it showed against San Fran, of course that was at home and it was San Fran so take it for what it's worth and it's an in-state rivalry, I hate the hook the -3.5 line in general and I think Tennessee might just be on a mission to pound folks, Andrew Walter looked solid but the trio of Walter, Tuia and Russell are not really road warriors, only lean here is on Tennessee to get it done again as I can see the Titans putting up some points here, possibly a lean on the under as well, but likely just staying away and rolling with a baseball total.