If the NFL playoffs started this weekend, the Raiders would be a wild-card team traveling to Houston.
Because of Cleveland’s win over Pittsburgh on Thursday and the Raiders’ head-to-head tiebreaker win against Indianapolis, the Raiders currently have the No. 6 seed.
But let’s get greedy. If the Raiders (5-4) defeat Cincinnati on Sunday — they are 10½-point favorites — and the Los Angeles Chargers upset Kansas City (6-4) on Monday in Mexico City, the Raiders would vault into first place in the AFC West, a half-game ahead of the Chiefs.
I love to dream, because I’m also holding a 13-1 ticket on the Raiders to win the division, not to mention an “over” marker on them exceeding six wins.
Having a healthy offensive line Sunday should pave the way for another 100-yard rushing game for rookie Josh Jacobs. The Bengals haven’t stopped a running back all season. Last week, Baltimore rushed for 5.9 yards a pop against the Bengals, including a 47-yard touchdown run by quarterback Lamar Jackson.
One of the marquee attractions Sunday features the Ravens’ home game against QB Deshaun Watson and the Texans. Riding a five-game winning streak, the Ravens are favored by 4 points. Besides good quarterbacks, both have positive turnover differentials: Ravens plus 4 and Texans plus 3.
I’m taking the Ravens, and here’s the clincher: Teams coming off a game in London and then a bye are 0-6 straight up and against the spread. That list includes the Raiders, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Carolina, the Los Angeles Rams and the Bengals. Houston and Jacksonville, which plays at Indianapolis, qualify this week.
My three-team, 7-point teaser: Atlanta +12½, Arizona +17½ and Chicago +13½.
I’m especially fond of the Falcons. Matt Ryan is 6-1 in his past seven starts against the Panthers, and the Falcons showed last week at New Orleans that they are better than their record.
Cash some tickets this weekend, because that’s what it’s all about.
Brent Musburger’s betting column appears Saturday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He is host of “My Guys in the Desert” weekdays from 2 to 4 p.m. on VSiN.com, SiriusXM 204 and 920 AM The Game.