NFL Pick: Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders (4-11SU, 6-9 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4 SU, 8-6-1 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday December 30, 1:00 PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City Mo.
By Keith Allen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Oak +13½ / KC -13½
Over/Under Total: 55
The 2018 NFL campaign comes to a close in Kansas City for the Oakland Raiders and hometown Chiefs on Sunday. The Chiefs are getting ready for what they hope will be a deep playoff run while the Raiders are getting vacation plans ready. Bookmakers such as Mybookie have made the Chiefs 13½ point favorites and the play is to take the points with the Silver and Black. Here is the handicap.
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There is no doubt about who the best team on the field will be. The Chiefs can lock up the number 1 seed and home field throughout the AFC playoffs with a win, while Oakland could tie for the worst record in the league if they lose and the Cardinals find a way to log their 4th victory. Kansas City has the firepower against the porous Oakland defense to put up 40 points at will as they did in the week 13 game in the Bay. But the question for this week is which team will be better focused on the task at hand.
Raiders Should be Focused
Jon Gruden has led Oakland to 3 wins in their last 6 games after all of the pundits were sure the team was tanking and looking to the 2019 draft after being 1-8 through week 10. The Raiders have been even better ATS during that stretch with 4 covers in those 6 games. Gruden has the team confident that that they can compete, and knowing that with 3 first round draft picks and sufficient cap room to be aggressive in free agency they should enter 2019 as a team that will be able to compete for a playoff berth. Oakland had a big win last week in what could have been the final game in the historic Oakland Coliseum and the team should be inspired to close out the season with a surprise win against the Chiefs.
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KC’s Motivation is a Question
Andy Reid has KC in prime position to start their playoff run, but after dropping last Sunday’s game in Seattle this game is a must win. The Chiefs understand the importance of making sure all of their post season games will be at Arrowhead which means they have to take care of business against their division foe. Unfortunately for the betting public that wants to back KC, Reid’s definition of taking care of business this week is get the W and keep his team healthy. Back up QB Chad Henne has not thrown a pass in 2018 but if the Chiefs find themselves up by a safe margin Patrick Mahomes will probably stay on the sideline. The backfield for KC is down to 3rd stringer Damien Williams who has filled in admirably, but Reid will not take any chances with him or Spencer Ware if Ware is able to return. Tyreek Hill has been nursing multiple leg and foot injuries during December and will be used sparingly if the score allows.
When we get to the 4th quarter if the Chiefs are up 14, Reid will be trying to figure out how to keep the clock running and get the game over while Gruden is trying to figure how to score some touchdowns. As soon as Reid believes he can coast in, key starters will be cheering on their teammates rather than running up the score. It’s hard to invest in the Chiefs knowing their primary focus will be on the playoffs rather than leaving it all on the field in week 17.
Oakland Could Pull off a Surprise
Oakland has been playing solid football for the last 6 weeks. With the exception of laying an egg in Cincy after surprising the Steelers in 14, they have been competitive in each of those 6 games. The defense has held their opponents to less than 350 yards in the last 3 games while only allowing 22 points per game over that stretch.
Derek Carr appears to have dispelled any notion that Gruden will look for a fresh start at the QB position for 2019. Carr has settled in and completed 68% of his attempts while averaging over 250 yards per game despite throwing from behind a below average offensive line to receivers that may not be in the league in 2019. Carr has used his used his tight end Jared Cook and a tandem of running backs to move the ball and put points on the board. There is a chance that the Raiders get some early breaks and keep the game close with a chance to win the game as the clock winds down. The Raiders were within 3 points of the Chiefs with less than 7 minutes to play in week 13 in Oakland before falling by only a touchdown. Oakland shocked the Steelers 3 weeks ago and the Chiefs have lost their last 2 and required overtime to get a win 3 weeks ago. It wouldn’t be a total surprise if this game comes down to the final horn and the Raider cover is never in doubt.
Play the Road Dogs
Take the Silver and Black +13½ points in Arrowhead this week. The Raiders have been playing good football and rewarding their backers. Kansas City is 0-5-1 ATS in their last 6, so underneath the glamour of the high-flying passing attack there isn’t anything for bettors to hang their hats on. Look for Oakland to be competitive and keep the number within the spread.