Both teams are coming off victories. Washington’s win streak is two games longer than the Raiders’, but the Football Team is still below .500. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game.
Washington Football Team vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Sunday, December 05, 2021 – 04:05 PM EST at Allegiant Stadium
Washington's Improved Defense
Last year, Washington was certainly known to have one of the NFL's top defenses as the Football Team ranked fifth-best at limiting the opposing team's scoring average. But for most of this season, good defense and Washington have had very little to do with each other.
Know for your sports betting that recently, though, this has changed: since its bye week, Washington has been one of the NFL's hottest teams. During its ongoing 3-0 SU and ATS win streaks, Washington has allowed an average of 18.3 points per game.
If this number were a season-long statistic, then Washington would have the NFL's fourth-best scoring defense. It's not like Washington is simply beating up cupcake opponents, either.
Defending champs Tampa Bay, for example, leads the NFL in scoring offense. Despite averaging just over 31 points per game, the Bucs mustered 19 points in their loss to the Football Team. 19 tied a season-low for Tampa Bay in scoring. As part of this loss, Tom Brady threw a season-high two interceptions and suffered his second-worst passer rating of any game this season.
Raider Rush Attack
It will be very important for quarterback Derek Carr and company to perform better than Brady did because they will be unable to depend on a viable rush attack for support. Largely due to problems with run-blocking, the Raiders have consistently had one of the NFL's worst rushing attacks this season. Currently, they rank 27th in rushing yards per game.
The Raiders hoped to improve its guard position by having veteran Richie Incognito return. However, Incognito suffered a setback during his rehab, which has generated the belief that he won't return at all this season let alone for this Sunday's game.
Other hopes, like recent draft pick John Simpson, haven't been panning out. There is simply not a lot of quality available on Las Vegas' offensive line.
Washington Run Defense
To add to its current troubles, Las Vegas' rush attack encounters a Football Team defense that ranks fourth-best at limiting the opponent's rushing yards. As part of the team's hot streak, Washington's run defense has been elite, allowing an average of 66 rushing yards per game.
In the process, Washington limited guys like Leonard Fournette, the former first-rounder on Tampa Bay who has been having an excellent season,
The Football Team has achieved this solidity against the run largely thanks to its investment in the interior of its defensive line, which is patrolled by former Crimson Tide stars Da'Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen. Both guys are primed to exploit Las Vegas' weak interior offensive line.
Without much of a run game, Carr will have to accomplish a lot through the air. Problematically, he's missing top pass-catcher, super athletic star Darren Waller, who is listed as "week-to-week" with a knee injury.
Waller nearly leads the team in receiving yards despite playing in fewer games. Without him and, obviously, without Henry Ruggs, the Raiders lack explosive options in the passing game.
Plus, Washington's bigger-named cornerbacks have been playing as one must expect them to. Kendall Fuller, for example, just limited Seattle's D.K. Metcalf and Carolina's D.J. Moore to a combined total of three receptions for 29 yards.
Washington Offense vs. Las Vegas Defense
Offensively, the Football Team is run-reliant. It owns the ninth-highest running play percentage. It is therefore important to know for your best bets that the Raider run defense is vulnerable.
Last year, the Raiders' run defense ranked 28th in DVOA, a metric that measures quality while accounting for things like strength of schedule. This year, Las Vegas' run defense has not seen the desired improvement as it ranks 25th in limiting opposing rushing yards per game.
Newcomer Darius Philon, for example, was supposed to help by bolstering the defensive line, but he is injured. Expect Antonio Gibson, who is coming off 95- and 111-yard rushing performances, to continue to thrive for Washington despite previous concerns about his shin.
Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke has, moreover, been accomplishing his most efficient football of the season. Unlike Carr, Heinicke is able to rely on his top target, who is Terry McLaurin with his team-leading 58 receptions and 786 receiving yards.
Behind a stronger ground game and competent quarterback play, expect Washington to stay hot. When you place your bet, feel free to buy the extra half-point because three is a key number in football. But, for the above reasons, +2.5 is also a great NFL pick as I expect Washington to win outright.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.