Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

Oakland Raiders (2-11 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date and Time: Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: OAK +11.5/KC -11.5
Over/Under Total: 41.5

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On Sunday, the Oakland Raiders come into Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC West battle between longtime rivals. Oakland has won 2 out of 3 games and although they are now 2-11, things are headed in the right direction. For Kansas City, they really need a win to keep their fading postseason hopes alive. After a stretch where they won 7 out of 8 games, they have now dropped their last 3 games to fall to 7-6.

Oakland earned their first win of the season over Kansas City a few weeks ago, with a gutty 24-20 win. On Sunday, they earned a good win over the 49ers, 24-13, and have some decent momentum. Before growing too optimistic about the Raiders, one should remember their lone two wins of the season sandwich a 52-0 loss to the Rams.

Oakland saw RB Latavius Murray return to the lineup on Sunday after a concussion suffered against the Chiefs. He came down to earth a bit against the Niners, but its hard to forget how effective he was against a KC run-defense that hasnt been very good in recent weeks. Raiders QB Derek Carr had another good game on Sunday and was also very instrumental in the Raiders first win against the Chiefs a few weeks ago. The Raiders pass-game has seen a surge with the continued growth of receiver Andre Holmes and TE Mychal Rivera.

After losing to the then-winless Raiders, the Chiefs continued to struggle, losing badly at home against the Broncos and then falling to the Cardinals on Sunday, 17-14. An offense that was marginal all season took a step back and has not scored more than 24 points in a game since beating the Rams in October. QB Alex Smith has thrown picks in consecutive games. Jamaal Charles is still a force, but has only been handed the ball 20 combined times in the last two games. And hes dealing with a swollen knee, so well see if that slows him down on Sunday. WR Dwayne Bowe continues to disappoint having not caught a TD pass this season, while leading receiver TE Travis Kelce continues to grow into a more focal point of this offense. And midseason acquisition WR Jason Avant came alive on Sunday with 5 receptions. But they are handcuffed by having the 31st-ranked passing attack in the league, relying on the run to do a lot of the work.

The Kansas City defense has been readily more exploitable in recent weeks. Losing a top safety like Eric Berry didnt help, from a football standpoint and perhaps beyond that. And a defense that was doing a great job of hassling opposing quarterbacks has grown a bit meeker in the last several games, while allowing running backs to pick up huge chunks of yardage. With the Chiefs, they are one of those over-achieving team that operates on a razors edge. And when things turn against them even subtly, its a team that cannot absorb the blow. They were looking really good at 7-3 after starting the season 0-2. And all it took was a small shift in their fortunes to send them crashing down to earth with a trio of consecutive defeats.

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This is a gut-check for KC, to see if they still have it in them for a final push. At 7-6, they no longer have an inside track for a wild card, but winning out could change that and the first of three steps is what seems to be a winnable game here at home against the Raiders. Two wins in 3 games aside, the Raiders are a team that should be beaten by a good squad like Kansas City. But if the Chiefs continue to play a notch or two below their peak form, the Raiders are quite suitable in the role of spoiler.

The contrast between quarterbacks Smith and Carr is stark. Smith is the poker-faced steward of the Chiefs offense, placing a premium on safety. Carr is the emotional Raiders leader, a more rascally gunslinger who pays less regard to things such as field position and the like. In the first game against the Chiefs, we saw Carr will his team to a win, with an impassioned final scoring drive that really illustrated his long-range potential in this league. For the first time in his career, hes facing a team he has beaten and should have some confidence entering this match-up. But lets not forget, Arrowhead is a tough place to play, especially for rookie quarterbacks.

One could attribute more credit to the Chiefs, with their urgency factor ratcheted up. They simply have more to play for than the Raiders. But in the last three games, the situation was also critical, as the Chiefs struggled to keep pace in a tough AFC West, in addition to what has now become a crowded wild card picture. And still, they were unable to respond with a positive result.

The spread of 11.5 in favor of Kansas City is understandable to a certain degree. They need a win, are playing in one of the toughest environments for opposing teams, and the Raiders didnt get to 2-11 by accident. And the Chiefs just seem due, not just to win, but to play well. And I think they will. Oakland, however, will manage to hang in there and keep within distance to cover the spread.

Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oakland Raiders plus 11.5 points.