AFC West Preview: Raiders vs Chiefs Odds, Free Pick and Prediction

Kurt Boyer

Kansas City’s offense has been called a “video game” offense. But that doesn’t really do the nuclear-powered Chief attack much justice. Video game teams are locked into simple blocking schemes and old-fashioned drop back passing. Andy Reid’s team is like something out of the 22nd century.

With swift cannon-armed Patrick Mahomes at the helm, KC overwhelms defenses with an dazzling array of plays in the downfield pass, the nickel-and-dime game, roll-outs, waggles, and option plays. While the defense isn’t nearly as good as their counterparts, it hasn’t stopped the squad from running-up an impressive record.

A glance at this week’s NFL betting board tells us that Vegas does not expect the Raiders to slow them down at all.

Who: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders

When: Sunday, December 2, 4:05 PM EST

Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA

Lines: Chiefs (-15) at Raiders (+15) / O/U Total: (56)

Oakland Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs Vegas Lines and Preview

It’s pretty rare that an NFL line marks the visiting team as a 15-point favorite. But Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders are struggling, and may not be able to stave-off a blow-out in this one.

QB Patrick Mahomes has become a fantasy football god. He leads the league with 37 passing TDs, 5 more than the guy behind him, Andrew Luck. Second year RB Kareem Hunt has 824 yards on the ground and 7 TDs to go along with 378 receiving yards and another 7 TDs through the air. TE Travis Kelce has had another incredible year, and WR Tyreek Hill is a match-up nightmare.

The Chiefs defense has not kept up with the success of the offense, but they haven’t really had to. And they’ve improved as the season has gone on (notwithstanding the 54 points they gave up in a recent loss to the Rams).

In the 4 games before the epic shootout with LA, the defense allowed an average of 17 points per game; not bad for a team which has been widely criticized for giving up too many points. The front-7 can get to the QB, and the defense has produced 36 sacks. DE Chris Jones leads the team with 9.

One might say the defense is on the field a lot because of the quick strike offense. Others might simply say it’s time for KC to adopt the Pulaski Academy System:

Pulaski Academy is a prep school from Arkansas currently working on a 5th straight state football championship. The program routinely beats bigger and/or faster teams using a method of game-management based in basketball concepts. Pulaski uses all 4 downs on offense 100% of the time, and on-side kicks at least 75% of the time. If the team fails to recover an on-side attempt, their opponents get great starting field position. But when the Bruins recover, they get great field position too. Meanwhile, they’re almost impossible for defenses to stop because of the advantage of using all 4 downs.

Picture the Chiefs with a 4-down offense, extra possessions, and a defense protecting half the field. KC’s defense is soft against the run but likes to get after the pocket and create turnovers. The unit might prove more effective in short bursts than in trying to defend 80 yards. With Mahomes’ wizardry in passing and in the option game, the “Pulaski Chiefs” would score TDs on 50% or 60% of their drives and average at least 45-50 points. Opponents would average maybe 10-12 possessions, and would have to score touchdowns on 6 or 7 of them to stand any chance of winning. If they lost the turnover battle or faltered in the Red Zone at any point, they’d be toast.

Fat chance (please excuse the pun, Coach Reid). But with the best young QB in the NFL, there’s a dozen ways for the Chiefs to win games no matter how they strategize. There might be 2 dozen ways for KC to beat the Raiders.

The Raiders are just surviving at this point. Gruden traded their best player in Khalil Mack and moved the top WR when he shipped Amari Cooper to Dallas. It’s a house cleaning, a deck clearing – choose your cliche. Gruden will enjoy having 3 1st round draft picks in 2019, an opportunity to stock the squad with fresh talent.

But it’s been tough sledding in 2018. QB Derek Carr has struggled, and it’s rumored that there has been some in fighting between him and his head coach, leading to speculation that he could also be moved before the Las Vegas Raiders’ 2019 season. Carr has only 13 TDs and 8 INTs. The offense as a whole has a paltry 5 rushing TDs, 3 of those coming from RB Marshawn Lynch who is out for the season with a groin injury.

Oakland is 30th in points allowed per game and dead last in rushing yards allowed per game. The pass defense has had some life, but star LB Tahir Whitehead has no sacks, no INTs, and no forced fumbles.

Free Game Prediction and Pick

I’m liking the Chiefs to cover the spread, but especially loving the Over (56). Kansas City is likely to start scoring early, quiet the rowdy Oakland throng (or what’s left of it) and then go right on scoring. Oakland could find a few seams in a soft defense, making the final score something like 51-17.

Take KC against the spread or (better yet) the Over for a winner in Cali.

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