It’s been a bad year for Bay Area football, but pride is still at stake as the Oakland Raiders (1-6) travel to Levi’s Stadium to take on the San Francisco 49ers (1-7) on Thursday night (8:20 p.m., FOX). The Niners are a three-point favorite at most sportsbooks, with the betting total hovering at 46.5 points.
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Jon Gruden’s offense was regressing going into their bye week, but it looks like he and Derek Carr (sans the injured Marshawn Lynch and the traded Amari Cooper) turned it around to some extent by amassing 28 points (three passing touchdowns) against the Colts on Sunday. Indy’s defense is no great shakes, but neither is the San Fran’s. The 49ers bring the NFL’s 21st-ranked pass defense into this matchup against the Raiders and their 11th-ranked aerial attack.
Most importantly for Carr, he didn’t throw an INT for the second straight game. He’s tossed eight passes to the wrong team this year, among the highest marks in the NFL. But Carr should post another goose-egg in the INT column on Thursday, as the Niners have picked off just two throws all season. That’s just one of the reasons why San Fran is tied for the worst turnover ratio in the league at minus-13.
Another contributor to that ghastly number is C.J. Beathard, who’s tossed seven INTs in just five games as Jimmy Garoppolo’s replacement. Beathard (wrist) has joined a growing list of banged-up 49ers that includes Pierre Garcon, Matt Breida, Weston Richburg, and Ruben Foster. If Beathard can’t go on Thursday night, NFL neophyte Nick Mullens and retread Tom Savage are behind him.
Beathard has been the victim of some shoddy protection this season, as the Niners’ offensive linemen have allowed the second-most sacks in football (31). Even Oakland and their virtually non-existent pass rush (averaging one sack per game) should be able to generate some pressure on the quarterback in this one.
Fortunately for San Francisco, Oakland has a dreadful defense. The Raiders are next-to-last in points per game allowed (31.1) and last in yards per play allowed (6.7). However, Oakland’s stoppers have beefed up to some extent in three road games this season. Their points against when playing away from home drops to 24.7, and they get off the field quickly, seeing just 27:44 of playing time (second-best mark in the league).
The Raiders appear to hold an slight edge over the 49ers, so go with them and the field-goal insurance policy.
Prediction: Raiders win, 27-23
The play: Raiders +3