Before you make any bets or picks for Friday’s Detroit Lions vs. Oakland Raiders preseason NFL game at 10:30 p.m. ET, you need to hear what Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg has to say. The legendary Vegas handicapper enjoyed a 17-year ESPN run in which he had only two losing seasons picking NFL games. Last year, Hammer competed against 10 top handicappers in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s NFL Challenge and beat them all, finishing 50-29-6 against the spread. 

In last week’s Hall of Fame Game, Hammer told SportsLine readers to grab Chicago +2.5 points. The result: The Bears covered, nearly winning outright in a 17-16 loss. Anyone who tailed Goldberg won with ease.

Now, Goldberg has studied the matchups for Lions vs. Raiders, noticing a key X-factor you didn’t even consider, and he’s again sharing his strongest picks over at SportsLine.

Hammer has an interesting observation about this game. “Detroit is looking for a running back and Matt Patricia is looking to build a defense,” he told SportsLine. And for the Raiders, Friday’s game marks the return of Jon Gruden out of the broadcast booth.

Goldberg is well aware that the Lions don’t expect to play Matthew Stafford more than two series. Expect to see a determined Jake Rudock make the most of his time under center after falling behind Matt Cassel for the No. 2 spot at quarterback. New acquisition LeGarrette Blount isn’t expected to see much action either. Instead, look for Auburn rookie running back Kerryon Johnson to establish himself as Blount’s backup.

If last year is any indication, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr won’t see much, if any, game action. He didn’t play in last season’s preseason opener and only threw nine passes in the second exhibition game. While Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin occupy the top two slots in the backfield, look for Texas rookie Chris Warren, who has been banged up in training camp, to show Gruden and his staff what he can offer. One Oakland receiver to keep an eye on is Oklahoma State rookie Marcell Ateman, who was drafted in the seventh round but looks to make a strong impression in his first preseason game.

So who is Hammer confidently backing in this Week 1 preseason matchup? Visit SportsLine now to get Hank’s picks on this game and for other NFL contests, all from the legendary handicapper coming off another wildly profitable season.


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