Thursday Night Football: Oakland Raiders (1-6) at San Francisco 49ers (1-7)
What to Watch For:
The battle for the 1st pick in the 2019 NFL Draft is on. This game will go a long way in deciding that pick. Currently, the Giants have the winning (losing) tie-breakers to earn that selection, but these two teams are very much alive. The winner of tonight’s game can almost be eliminated.
The Raiders almost look like they’re trying to lose. Whether Jon Gruden knows you have to get worse in order to get better or he’s just actually as bad of a coach as he looks. First order of business for the richest coach in NFL history: trade the 2016 DPOY Khalil Mack. Weird. Then trade your best, and youngest receiver in Amari Cooper. Granted, if someone offered me a first round pick for Cooper, I would have taken it too.
The 49ers are on the other end of the spectrum. A team that entered the season with high hopes on the back of newly signed QB Jimmy Garoppolo. That all went away when he tore his ACL in Week 3. A slew of other injuries have this team in contention for the top selection. Unlike the Raiders, should the 49ers get a top-3 selection and turn that into a bona fide offensive playmaker, they can turn their misfortunes around in just one offseason.
Prediction: Raiders win 20-16.
RB Jalen Richard
With the loss of Marshawn Lynch, the door has swung open for Doug Martin and Jalen Richard to show their stuff in what is likely a tryout for next season. Both are upcoming free agents, and both will get opportunities tonight. Jalen Richard will have the upper hand because of the reception floor. He’s had at least 5 targets in 6 of their 7 games, and 7 targets in 4 games. He will get opportunity to roam the field in the passing game tonight, and I expect a big receiving day.
TE George Kittle
Kittle is, without question, the primary option in the 49ers’ offense, so this is the easy choice. I understand I’m not going out on a limb here, but I believe he will have a monstrous game tonight. The Oakland Raiders have been one of the worst teams in the league allowing 9.9 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, ranking them 27th in the league.
RB Matt Breida
The matchup looks great on paper; the Raiders are terrible at stopping the run, 30th in the NFL allowing 25.2 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. The problem is there’s too much of a committee in San Francisco to trust any one specific back. Breida is the starter on the depth chart, but HC and playcaller Kyle Shanahan is quick to move to Alfred Morris and Raheem Mostert throughout the game. He tends to stick with the hot hand, but we won’t know who that is until the 2nd/3rd quarter.
WR Jordy Nelson
Nelson has been a confusing player this season. Personally, I had high hopes for him in Oakland with Derek Carr and new coach Jon Gruden. That hasn’t seemed to work out consistently; he’s shown flashes but they’ve been few and far between. With Amari Cooper being shipped out to Dallas, I, like many others, expected Nelson to blow up last week. That wasn’t the case, he only received 4 targets and only converted 1 reception for 14 yards. He hasn’t received more than 4 targets in a game since Week 4 and with the offense sputtering the way it is (41 points in the last 3 games), expect another disappointing night for Nelson.