The Lede: Raiders Ship Filling Up

By Julie, Dave & Family (flickr) CC License

Don’t have time to read through 1,000 words, but need some informed betting tips? Here’s a quick rundown on today’s biggest sports story (as adjudged by me) and how it impacts the way you should bet.

The Oakland Raiders are the most Popular Super Bowl LII Pick

Las Vegas sportsbooks have reported that more bets have been placed on the Oakland Raiders to win the Super Bowl than any other team, including the heavily-favored New England Patriots. As a result of all the money coming in, the Raiders odds have gone from as high as +2000 all the way down to as low as +600.

Oakland was expected to be a popular pick after posting a 12-4 record last season. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2002, when they lost in the Super Bowl. The Raiders displayed a high-powered offense in 2016, led by Derek Carr, that was capable of both smashing you in the mouth and attacking with finesse through the air.

Expect the same formula out of the 2017 Raiders offense, which added Jared Cook to provide an extra weapon through the air, and Marshawn Lynch in the backfield to bring the boom.

The Raiders didn’t enjoy the same success on the defensive side of the ball, however. The unit ranked 26th in total defense and 20th in scoring. One of the few bright spots was Khalil Mack, who recorded 11 sacks and played a vital role in generating their 30 takeaways (second in NFL).

GM Reggie McKenzie believes he has solved the team’s secondary woes by drafting Gareon Conley 24th-overall and Obi Melifonwu in the second-round. There is still much to be desired up the middle of the defense, though. Oakland got pushed around in the trenches last season, allowing 4.5 yards per carry (25th), and failed to make any dramatic improvements up front.

Takeaway: First, we need to remember that bettors are often trying to find the best value, especially when it comes to futures. This is exactly what’s happened with the Raiders, so don’t start buying into them being anywhere close to the AFC favorites over the Patriots.

If you’re still looking to make an early Super Bowl pick, you too should follow the bettors trend: find the best value. And unfortunately, if you do your betting in Vegas, that value does not exist with the Raiders anymore. (You can still find a bit of value if using any of these online sportsbooks, though.) But to be honest, even if the value was still there, I wouldn’t recommend the Raiders.

Oakland does not have the defense yet to win a Super Bowl. Any good team they play will expose their weak defensive front and keep their offense on the sidelines for lengthy periods of time. If you’re looking for value, the Giants possess a ton of it in the NFC, and everyone is sleeping on the Chiefs after a skeptical offseason. Both have the hard-nosed defense to slow Tom Brady, and enough weapons on offense to put up some points.