NFL Pick: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders
NFL Week 13
Date/Time: Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
By Loot Levinson, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: KC -15/OAK +15 (shop bookmakers for best odds)
Over/Under Total: 56
The Kansas City Chiefs battle the Oakland Raiders in AFC West action from the Coliseum on Sunday. The Chiefs sit atop the division at 9-2, coming off a 54-51 shootout loss to the Rams before the bye last week. Rested, they now come to face an Oakland team that is overturned on their backs at 2-9, following another loss/non-cover, this time against the Ravens on Sunday, 34-17. Even with the Chiefs highly-hyped and the Raiders unanimously derided, the Chiefs have failed to over the spread just twice this season, while Oakland is a dismal 3-8 ATS. I like the Chiefs to cover the spread again this week.
No Time for the Chiefs to Sleep
The Chiefs are in a good spot, but not so good that they can afford to slip up a bunch. The Chargers are a game behind at 8-3, with a handful of conference teams bunched together. Going on a bad run could wind up with the Chiefs ending up in a wild card position. A strong finish to the regular season, however, could lead to homefield-advantage throughout the playoffs. And with them coming off a bye and a loss, this might be a strange time to suspect the Raiders would sneak up on Kansas City. I look for some urgency from KC this week.
Is Oakland Terrible/Tanking?
With almost every NFL team, there are going to be peaks and valleys. The Raiders have been awful—there is no debate. But they managed to beat the Cardinals on the road a few weeks back. They dominated most of the first half against the Chargers the game before that. And, against Baltimore on the road last week, they took a 7-0 lead and trailed only 13-10 at halftime. So, it’s not like they’re getting run over at all times. In addition, we’re seeing their secondary making a lot of plays lately. With Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes having thrown 10 picks in his last 7 games, that’s an area they could potentially exploit.
Finding any more silver lining for Oakland is pretty hard. Their offense struggles massively. Lately, retread running back Doug Martin is their best weapon and that’s not good. They have a little bit of juice at tight end with Jared Cook. But at receiver, they are bare. Jordy Nelson has disappeared. Martavis Bryant (out) barely made a dent. Derek Carr is not in a position to thrive with so few weapons. And his line is not up to par, making it that much harder.
The Kansas City defense is in fact pretty bad, but it’s about context. They’ve actually played pretty well against offenses with more to offer than Oakland. Before giving up 54 to the Rams before the bye-week, they had been playing a lot better, having allowed a combined 69 points in their previous four games. But it does offer some hope, with Carr going against the last-ranked passing defense in the league. But Kansas City will be pitting a strong run-game against an Oakland ground-defense that can’t do much right. On Sunday, they gave up a combined 189 yards on the ground against Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson—two rookies. The week before, they allowed 137 to quiet David Johnson, so how will they fare against the defending rushing champion Kareem Hunt, along with Spencer Ware and the shifty Mahomes?
Taking to the Air
Oakland has been decent against the pass, which could be a byproduct of having such a poor run-defense that teams focus more on their ground-attack. They have been making more plays lately, which could resonate here against the still-green Mahomes. But the Oakland secondary is certainly not all-that-solid and should struggle against the sheer variety of Kansas City’s aerial-attack. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, along with the pass-catching abilities of their backs represents a lot for Oakland to mind and it probably won’t go well.
Avoiding Obvious Storylines
There is generally no edge to be gained when betting into obvious storylines like this. We have Kansas City coming off the bye—a high-powered football machine pining to get back on the winning track. On the other sideline is a beaten-down and bedraggled Oakland bunch that is coming off another loss, back at home where the support is waning. Kansas City has been able to score at will this season, while Oakland has been awful on both sides of the ball. Sometimes, however, the media’s hyperbolic way of stating reality still doesn’t do enough justice. And at 3-8 ATS, it’s clear that the spreads have still remained too congratulatory to the lowly Silver and Black, with one cover since September. That’s pretty amazing with the story being loud and clear that the Raiders stink something awful. Conversely, even as the Chiefs have ascended to the top of the conference, they still aren’t getting enough credit, having lost ATS just twice in 2018.
Lay the Points on the Road Favorite
Is it chalky and obvious? Maybe it is, but I see it as being the right call. The number seems large, but I’d rather have my wagon hitched to a Mack truck than a ’82 Renault. The gulf in offensive firepower in this matchup is starker than any game in recent memory. Defense is another story, but it’s not like Oakland is a ton better in that area, if at all. I see a ton of scenarios that lead to Kansas City covering, with only a precious few for Oakland to get it done. I’m laying the number in this one.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Kansas City Chiefs minus 15 points.