With just a few days to recover from their first loss of the season, the (5-1) Kansas City Chiefs head to the O.co Coliseum to take on AFC West rival, the (2-4) Oakland Raiders, also coming off a loss, in a Thursday Night Football showdown (8:25 PM ET).
The Chiefs’ dreams of an undefeated season came to an end when they hosted the (4-2) Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday. By most accounts it was a sloppy game by Kansas City with a few questionable calls made by the coaching staff and missed opportunities by the offense, which ultimately made the difference. The final score was 19-13.
Meanwhile, in Oakland, the Raiders took on the (1-4) LA Chargers in what should have been an easy game. Desperate to stay in the win column however, the Chargers played just good enough to walk away with a 17-16 victory over the Raiders. Oakland has now lost four in a row after starting their season 2-0.
Who and What are the Oakland Raiders?
This has been a question that sports pundits and Raiders’ fans have been trying to figure out since the third game this season. Because so far, we’ve seen the best of the Raiders, that being the team that won their first two games by a 71-36 margin, and the worst of the Raiders, a team that hasn’t scored more than 17 points in a single game since then.
Entering the season there were high expectations on Oakland, which was coming off a 12-win season last year and likely would have made a lot of noise in the playoffs if not for a devastating injury to quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders were the NFL’s surprise team last year, doing well beyond their preseason projection. They emerged as a young roster of players growing together and the expectation was they would only get better. A decent amount of preseason projections even had a healthy Raiders team as the one to beat in the AFC West. So far, in 2017 however, this hasn’t really been the case.
The Raiders won their first two games easily, but they weren’t exactly facing the NFL’s cream of the crop. Oakland’s opponents, the (3-3) Tennessee Titans and (3-3) New York Jets, are both just average teams. These were games the Raiders were expected to win and they did. But the problem is, of the next four games, one could have looked at that schedule and said the Raiders should have won three of the four as well. The combined record currently of Oakland’s last four opponents is 11-11.
This means on the season that the Raiders have played six teams that share a combined record of 14-14. They have really yet to face the kind of challenge that they’ll see on Thursday night when they face one of the NFL’s best teams in the Chiefs.
The key for the Raiders is going to have to be finding the same kind of offensive explosion they had last year which so far has been elusive. Carr was an MVP candidate last year but in 2017 he’s struggled, especially with the deep ball. The Raiders are among the worst teams in the NFL in downfield throws, which is odd given the way Carr opened up the field with his arm last year, really embracing the deep ball and the ability of his receivers to make the plays.
Carr has said he believes the Raiders are one play away from breaking out and recapturing some of the prowess that made them such a great offense last year. The Raiders right now are the 29th ranked offense in the league with just 1,670 total yards and 27th in total passing yards with just over 1,110.
Kansas City Good at Protecting Ball, Oakland Bad at Forcing Turnovers
Chiefs’ QB Alex Smith may not be considered among the NFL elite, he may not get MVP consideration and he may not get the respect he deserves as being more than just a “game manager.” But Kansas City knows that Smith is an invaluable asset to that team, especially with the way that he protects the ball.
Smith has attempted 192 throws and in addition to completing 140 of them, which is the NFL’s best completion percentage at 72.9, Smith has also not thrown one single interception, compared to 12 touchdowns, which is fifth among QBs. Smith also is first in the league in rating (119.2), and third in yards (1,637).
It is time to shed that game manager label for good and give Smith the respect he has earned as one of the top signal callers in the game.
It has been Smith’s ability to protect the ball that is a big part of the reason why the Chiefs were undefeated until last week. Lack of turnovers has helped them maintain control of the offense and the time of possession. The same can be said for the Raiders because their defense’s inability to create turnovers has greatly been to the team’s detriment.
The Raiders are the only team in the NFL not to have a single interception on the year and have forced just five fumbles as well. As far as giveaway/takeaway ratio, theirs is a negative two, because Carr and the offense have been responsible for five interceptions and two fumbles on the year.
Our Preview’s Kansas City Chiefs vs Oakland Raiders Picks & Betting Predictions
The Chiefs are road favorites (-3pts) with our recommended bookmakers and with good reason. Kansas City was undefeated until the past Sunday and has won five straight games against Oakland and seven of the last eight. So here are this preview’s betting predictions and picks for this game:
- Kansas will be looking to wipe that loss from their memories real quick and get back to the style of football that has brought them success all season long. On a short week, take the Chiefs to cover the three point spread @ best odds of -115 with BetOnline or MyBookie.
- As for the total points, take the under 46.5pts @ -110 with Bovada or MyBookie as this shouldn’t be a shootout but rather a well-coached and well-executed game.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.