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Las Vegas Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints Prediction: The Silver and Black Pay a Visit to the Big Easy

A couple of struggling teams look to grab their third win of the season

Two teams that entered the 2022 NFL season with playoff expectations but have thus far struggled to just two wins will face off Sunday when the Raiders visit the Saints.

Related: Expert Picks for Every Week 8 NFL Game

New Orleans (2-5) enter this game with extra time to prepare after losing at Arizona on "Thursday Night Football" last week. The Saints scored 34 points, their second-highest total of the season, but dug themselves too big of a hole when Andy Dalton threw three interceptions in the first half. The Cardinals returned two of those for touchdowns, and the other occurred in the end zone. 

Las Vegas, meanwhile has won two games in the last three weeks. The Raiders (2-5) were tied with the Texans at halftime, then trailed 20-17 at the end of the third quarter. But the Raiders responded with touchdowns during two consecutive possessions. After the second touchdown, they sealed the victory with a pick-six during Houston's next possession.

The Raiders lead this series, 7-6-1, although the teams are knotted at 3-3-1 in New Orleans. The Raiders have won the last two meetings, including the most recent one, which was their first regular season game in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas (2-4) at New Orleans (2-5)

Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. ET 
TV: CBS 
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Raiders -1.5
Tickets: As low as $59 on SITickets.com*

Three Things to Watch

1. Raiders' rushing attack vs. Saints' rushing defense
Las Vegas' running game has improved over the course of the season. Opponents held the Raiders under 100 yards on the ground with no rushing touchdowns in each of the first three games of this season. Those were all defeats. In the three most recent contests, the Raiders have surpassed 150 rushing yards and at least one rushing touchdown in each game, leading to two wins. Leading the way is Josh Jacobs, who is up to a career-high 5.7 yards per carry after averaging more than seven yards per carry in each of the last two games.

The Saints rank in the bottom half of rushing defenses. New Orleans has allowed the tenth most rushing yards per game (123.1) and is tied for the tenth most rushing touchdowns surrendered (seven). The advanced stats paint a prettier picture — 16th in run stop win rate (30 percent) and 15th in adjusted line yards (4.53) — but it's a beatable group.

2. New Orleans' propensity to give away the ball vs. Las Vegas' struggle to force turnovers
The Raiders' defense has just four takeaways so far, tied for the fewest in the NFL. Las Vegas had one takeaway in each of their two victories while not giving away the ball. The Raiders did not come out ahead in the turnover margin in any of their four defeats, although the margin was even in three of their losses.

Plenty of blame can be shared among the Saints for their 16 turnovers, the highest number in the league. Jameis Winston threw five interceptions in his three games. Dalton has been picked off four times and fumbled once in his four appearances, including the two pick-sixes last week. Alvin Kamara has fumbled twice, with one of those returned for a touchdown at Carolina. Mark Ingram II has coughed up the ball twice, the second one occurring at the Buccaneers' 10-yard line with a chance to grab the lead midway through the third quarter. Chris Olave lost the ball at the end of his 51-yard reception late in the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay, killing any chance of pulling out a win. 

3. Will Darren Waller haunt the Saints again?
In Week 2 of the 2020 season, Waller enjoyed one of his most productive days against the Saints. He caught 12 passes for 105 yards, his second-highest total in both categories in that season, along with a touchdown. Since that victory at home, he has only caught that many passes in a game once and for that many yards or more in just six games.

Hamstring problems in both legs have limited Waller's playing time this year. In the first four games, he has had six receptions in one game, four in another, and three in two others. His highest yardage total in any of those games was 79. He has caught just one touchdown pass so far. He did not record any statistics at Kansas City in Week 5 as he took the field for only eight plays, and he was inactive last week. Waller has been able to practice this week, albeit in a limited fashion, but the Raiders are hopeful he'll be back out there on Sunday.

Opponents' tight ends have not exploited New Orleans' defense to any significant level this season. The Saints have permitted opposing tight ends to catch only 22 passes, the fifth-lowest total in the league. Those completions have resulted in only 198 yards, the third-fewest. The Saints are one of just six teams who have yet to allow a tight to catch a touchdown so far in 2022. 

Final Analysis

The Raiders have fared more successfully at home than on the road. Both of their wins occurred in Las Vegas. On the road, they have dropped three nail-biters by an average of 2.7 points. Can they make just a few more positive plays that will make the difference between another close defeat and a victory?

At first glance, it appears that the Saints are destined for their first losing season since 2016 and a second consecutive season with no postseason appearance. However, they remain only one game beyond the Falcons and a half-game behind the Buccaneers in a division full of teams with losing records. Nearing the midpoint of the season, the Saints can still realistically win the NFC South and advance to the playoffs despite their mostly inept performances so far.

Prediction: Saints 23, Raiders 20

— Written by John La Fleur, a contributor to AthlonSports.com, who focuses on the New Orleans Saints and Michigan State Spartans. He also frequently comments on other teams in the NFL and in NCAA football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur and read his viewpoints at gridiron-connoisseur.com and on YouTube.

*Price as of publication.