Oakland are bottom of the AFC West and need a win. Can they get it in Buffalo? Neil Harvey thinks so, in what he's expecting to be a nail-biter...
"these solid defenses could cause a lot of drives to fall just short. And that could mean plenty of action for the kickers"
Oakland Raiders @ Buffalo Bills
Sunday October 29nd, 21:25 BST
TV - Live on Sky Sports Main Event
With home advantage, the 4-2 Bills would seem an obvious choice to get the better of 3-4 Oakland. But I believe this will be a desperately close encounter that will decided by a late field goal. Is that specific enough for you?
Buffalo big on defense
Buffalo have built their success this season upon playing some tough defense. They've allowed a modest 3.4 yards per rush and now face Oakland's Jalen Richard, who's deputising for the suspended Marshawn Lynch. Note though that Richard's 4.3 yards per carry suggest he'll be the feature back going forward. Hungry to impress, Richard could post respectable numbers here.
It's Buffalo's secondary that's really caught the eye. And with nine interceptions, to five touchdowns allowed, they have been ruthless against errant quarterbacks. However, context is everything. And I've noted down that the Bills pass rushers have struggled to put pressure on opposing QBs. This is significant. Because it means there should be time on the ball for Derek Carr.
Carr is going places
The Raiders offensive line has allowed a mere nine sacks this season, and so all the evidence is that Carr will have time to go through his reads and try to thread the eye of the needle to the likes of Amari Cooper, who enjoyed a stellar 200 yard game last weekend. The Bills secondary will be waiting to pounce. But Carr has only thrown four picks this year and is unlikely to squander possession.
Raiders D due big day
For Buffalo, Tyrod Taylor will fancy his chances against an Oakland D that's yet to make an interception this year. But I fancy this could be their day. The Raiders have been facing much better quarterbacks than Taylor to date and should find this game easier by comparison. Buffalo's pass attack ranks fourth from last in the league and could pay the price if its eyes get bigger than its belly.
McCoy is the man
This game though will be decided largely by the extent to which LeSean McCoy is involved. 'Shady' has been the fulcrum of the Bills offense, both as a rusher and receiver. Without him, nobody knows if there is a plan B. But he's been rested in training this week and there has to be concern that his huge workload is starting to take a toll. If he was to get even slightly injured, it would be goodnight Buffalo.
And so back to the beginning, and my prediction that this will go down to a late kick. McCoy will shoulder another huge workload for the Bills. Carr can keep Oakland in it, with Amari Cooper picking up the big yards and leading touchdown scorer Michael Crabtree finishing the drives.
It's very possible though, these solid defenses could cause a lot of drives to fall just short. And that could mean plenty of action for the kickers. Buffalo's Steven Hauschka has the better pedigree. But it's Giorgio Tavecchio I like to clinch victory for the Raiders. For those who think it's too close to call though, there's the fantastic option of backing either team to win by 1-7 points on the Sportsbook.
4pts Either team to win by 7 points or less @ 5/6
3pts Oakland to win by 1-5 points @ 4/1
3pts McCoy rushing and receiving yards Over 125.5 @ 5/6
3pts Carr passing yards Over 266.5 @ 1.9620/21
2pts on 1+ field goal in each quarter @ 11/2