Oakland Raiders (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 8:25PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OAK +3/KC -3
Over/Under Total: 47.5
On Thursday Night Football, the Oakland Raiders come to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs in a heavyweight AFC West battle. This could go a long way toward determining the division champion. Both teams won again on Sunday. Oakland won their 6th game in a row, overcoming a 15-point third quarter deficit to beat the Bills going away, 38-24. It was their tenth win, but they now leave home after a prolonged stand to go into Arrowhead to face a team that has already beaten the Raiders this season in the Chiefs. Kansas City beat the Falcons, 29-28, on Sunday. This one is for potentially high stakes.
The Raiders havenít tasted defeat since losing to Kansas City almost two months ago in Oakland. Arrowhead isnít an easy place to play and the weather is getting harsher. The Raiders have been in Oakland since playing Tampa in October, so the road has changed a bit with weather now a factor, but the Raiders have shown their road mettle, posting a 5-0 record this season away from home. But with a loss already to the surging Chiefs, the Raiders want to avoid the season-sweep. The Chiefs matched up well with the Raiders the first time around and the Raiders struggled in a 26-10 home loss.
On Sunday, the Raiders were pushed by Buffalo, as a second-half spurt threatened to take Oakland out of the game. The Oakland offense labored, while the defense was lit up by the Buffalo run-game. But Derek Carr, the whole offense, and even the defense have been adept at performing at their best late. Time and again, the defense clamps down late, as the offense gets busy and gets it done. The tough Buffalo defense was an issue on Sunday, with Carr having stretches of struggling. A pass to Amari Cooper from 37 yards out pulled Oakland ahead in the 4th quarter, before a Latavius Murray TD run gave them the lead and let them look like a more-conclusive winner than they really were. Carr ended up with two TD throws on 260 yards passing. Latavius Murray was good with 82 yards and two TD runs, while Jalen Richard added 53 yards. Oaklandís top two aerial threats, Cooper and Michael Crabtree, each caught TD passes.
Again, the Buffalo lead was never solid even as they led by 15 in the third, as Oakland can really turn it loose late. They overcome so often that itís almost to be expected at this point. Their offense doesnít always fire right out of the gates and the defense is readily exploitable at times, despite usually being clutch late. Oaklandís ďDĒ can be leaky against the run and that manifested on Sunday, with LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, and Tyrod Taylor peeling off nice runs against this bunch. But again, itís what a group does late that counts and keeping Buffalo off the board late was key in the big win. They might be porous on occasion, but they can make plays. In that area, Khalil Mack is becoming one of the best and he forced two turnovers on Sunday, while also getting a sack. Bruce Irvin has given Mack a pass-rushing partner in crime, as the pair was big on Sunday.
For a 10-2 team, Oakland will leave some things to be desired at times. On one hand, the ability to pull out late wins is key, as there is just something about a team that can manufacture wins and play at their best when the situation is at its most-critical. But itís also a byproduct of not dominating other teams. Other than fairly-conclusive wins over the Jaguars and Broncos, all of the Raiders wins have been affairs where they really needed to grind out the win.
The Chiefs continue to amaze. Their success challenges a lot of the things people believe to be true about football or what makes a good team. On the surface, you see a team devoid of stars that is 22nd in offense and 28th in defense. They have an efficient QB in Alex Smith and a patched-together offense with the demise of their main star Jamaal Charles. Their leading receiver has been out. But then you see that theyíre on an incredible run of 19 wins in their last 22 regular season games and it forces you to look at things a different way.
Leading receiver Jeremy Maclin could be returning to the fold this week, which should help. Smith and the offense have gotten a big boost from Spencer Ware, both on the ground and aerially. Travis Kelce is one of the best ball-catching tight ends in the game and went for 140 yards on Sunday. Smith was efficient on 21-for-25 passing for 270 yards. Ware scored on the ground and through the air. A direct-snap to Albert Wilson was run in 55 yards for a score. This is a well-coached offense that doesnít hurt itself and gets the most of what they have.
The KC defense was hardly infallible on Sunday, albeit in a tough road spot against a first place Atlanta team that has a lot of offensive firepower. They gave up over 400 yards, but the defense was able to make enough big plays to keep the game close and emerge with the win. Eric Berry was gigantic with two picks, one that he returned for a touchdown and the other on a two-point conversion attempt that he ran back for what ended up being the deciding score. The pass-rush is making an impact with Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Tamba Hali. They are, much like their opponent, a defense that can be exploited, but makes up for it with timely good play and a massive playmaking component.
Oakland has been at home for 4 straight games. With a bye week in the middle, they were at home for a long time. They now turn to Kansas City on the short week coming off three straight games where they really had to grind out the wins. The first game indicated some matchup issues for the Raiders on both sides of the ball. Iím going with the home team in this battle.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the Kansas City Chiefs minus 3 points.
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