Kansas City Chiefs (7-3 SU, 8-2 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (0-10 SU, 5-5 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date and Time: Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 8:25PM EST
Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California
TV: NFL Network
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: KC -8/OAK +8
Over/Under Total: 43
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Thursday features a battle of longtime AFC West rivals, as the Kansas City Chiefs come to the Coliseum to face the Oakland Raiders. This is a tale of two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum. Kansas City has done little wrong in the past few months, winning 7 of 8 since an 0-2 start, including 5 straight wins. Conversely, the Raiders are sitting at 0-10, pining for their first win of the season.
The Raiders werent that far off on Sunday, falling to the Chargers, 13-6. Scoring a pair of field goals isnt exactly inspiring, but holding the San Diego home offense to 13 points certainly was a good sign. Similar results this Sunday could prove to be favorable. In a betting sense, Oakland hasnt been all that bad at 5-5 against-the-spread. But they cant hold a candle to Kansas Citys productivity at the betting windows, with the Chiefs having covered 8 of their last 9 spreads.
The Chiefs have really turned it around. Its hard to even remember that they began the season 0-2. But before things got too out of hand, Kansas City whipped it together and are now among the top teams in the conference. On Sunday, they beat a Seattle team that was riding the crest of 3 straight wins. It was a demanding game and with Denver coming up the following week, they cant afford to phone it in against an Oakland team that simply hasnt given up and is trying to win.
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Derek Carr has not been garnering many positive headlines as the Raiders rookie QB, but his season has been character-building. He remains positive and tries hard, despite having a lot of reasons to get discouraged. Being 0-10 is not something he is accustomed to and he is working with one of the worst casts of offensive talent in the league. To say the 1-2 punch of Darren McFadden and MJD has been a disappointment would be an understatement of monstrous proportions. There are a lot of offenses in the league that wouldnt give much playing time to the guys who comprise the Oakland pass-catching crew. But Carr is still in there trying.
Having not faced KC this season yet, Carr may be seeing some things for the first time–namely a fearsome pass-rush and a pass-defense that is tops in the NFL through 11 weeks. Look for guys like Justin Houston and Tamba Hali to be setting their sights on the young quarterback. Kansas Citys defense can be porous at times against the run. While Oakland has struggled massively to run the ball (last in the NFL), they got a glimmer of hope against San Diego with Latavius Murray springing forth some big runs. TE Mychal Rivera is coming along and its not inconceivable that Oaklands offense can get some business done at home against a KC team that might take their foot off the gas slightly.
Something happens to a lot of teams psychologically when an 0-10 squad. They may say all the right things in the press about being up for the game. And it is, after all, a divisional game. They are tied with Denver in the AFC West, so the motivation isnt that hard to find. Still, there is often a let-up when facing a winless team in a sandwich game. With the Chiefs, it may be a little different. They have a chip on their shoulder, with the preseason cynics rampantly dismissing their 2014 prospects in the preseason and especially after their 0-2 start. So if the Chiefs do in fact ebb this week, it doesnt figure to be all that dramatic. With the Chargers hot on their heels and a tough game against Denver next week, this is not a time to slack off.
The Raiders face a slew of tough match-ups across all areas in this game. Their passing-game has been struggling against some pass-defenses that arent very good. And now they face the leagues best, with a brutal pass-rush coming after a rookie quarterback who wont be able to rely on the ground-game, with the Chiefs having not allowed a rushing TD all season. Meanwhile, the Raiders have been struggling to stop the run defensively and will face a Kansas City team that can really punish opponents with their ground-game. Jamaal Charles ran for 159 yards and a pair of TD runs on Sunday. Hes looking like his old self, peeling off one big run after the next. And that could be big against Oakland on Sunday.
Its difficult to imagine the Raiders not winning this year. Its not even likely that theyre the worst team in the league, or even their own conference. Make no mistake–theyre bad. But theyre also pretty scrappy and getting 8 points at home this week. The Chiefs are playing well and trying to time a KC letdown could be a costly exercise. But after a tough game against the Seahawks and with the Broncos next week, I think the Raiders could be catching a slightly off-key Chiefs team this week. I see the Raiders giving it a good go and staying within reach to get the cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oakland Raiders plus 8 points.