With Denver's win last Sunday night against New England, that erased any chance the Broncos wouldn't win the AFC West. So that leaves division foes Kansas City and Oakland chasing a wild-card spot in hopes of returning to the playoffs. The Chiefs last made it in the 2013 season but haven't won a playoff game since 1993. Oakland hasn't been to the playoffs since 2002 when it lost the Super Bowl -- that was the last time the team finished with a winning record.
The red-hot Chiefs (6-5) currently hold down the first wild-card spot in the AFC, something you couldn't have imagined a month ago. They win a tiebreaker currently over fellow 6-5 teams the Jets, Steelers and Texans based on best winning percentage in conference games. Kansas City is 5-2 vs. the AFC. You have to like its remaining schedule as well: vs. Chargers, at Ravens, vs. Browns, vs. Raiders. All teams with losing records. The Chiefs are -400 on BetOnline to make the playoffs and +300 not to.
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The Raiders (5-6) currently stand ninth and are 5-3 in the conference. Their schedule the rest of the way is much tougher: at Broncos, vs. Packers, vs. Chargers (final game ever in Oakland?) and at Chiefs. Oakland is -+800 to make the playoffs and -1600 not to. Clearly it has to win this game or it's not happening.
Chiefs at Raiders Betting Story Lines
Kansas City was expected to have one of the NFL's top defenses this season but that was far from the case the first four games of the season in which the Chiefs allowed more than 31 points three times. Since then, only one team has scored more than 18 (yet K.C. lost the first two of those). During this five-game winning streak, Kansas City is allowing only 290 yards per game, which is No. 1 in the NFL in that stretch. However, the most important player on that unit, linebacker Justin Houston, is questionable for Oakland. He has a hyperextended knee. Houston led the NFL with 22 sacks last year and has 7.5 this season along with two picks, one returned for a touchdown. Dee Ford would likely start for Houston; Ford missed the past two games but is apparently ready to go.
Offensively, Chiefs QB Alex Smith is doing exactly what Andy Reid wants him to do: not turn the ball over. Smith has thrown 283 straight passes without an interception, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history. Kansas City is third team in league history with at least five straight games in one season with no turnovers. Smith started a bit slowly, but his offensive line has stabilized. And Smith has six TD passes to wide receivers! Doesn't sound like much, but he had zero in 2014. New addition Jeremy Maclin has caught three of those. Maclin had his best game as a Chief last week in a big win over Buffalo with nine grabs for 160 yards and a score. It appears that running back Charcandrick West will play this week after missing the Bills game with a hamstring injury. Spencer Ware might have passed West on the depth chart with back-to-back big games.
I'll tell you right now that Oakland is my early choice to win the AFC West next season as that team has some really good young talent. Add a key free agent or two and the Los Angeles Raiders will be a force. And moving to L.A. would only help to land free agents. Oakland ended a three-game skid with a 24-21 win in Nashville last Sunday. Derek Carr threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts with 1:21 left. Carr threw for 330 yards and three scores, his sixth 300-yard game of the season and eighth with multiple TDs. The Chiefs might have trouble getting to Carr even if Houston plays as the Raiders have allowed a league-low 14 sacks.
These teams split last season, each winning at home. In Week 12 on a Thursday, the Chiefs lost in Oakland 24-20. That was a huge result. For one, it ended Oakland's 16-game losing streak dating to 2013. It also ended the Chiefs' five-game winning streak and started them on a three-game skid that would prove a killer to their playoff hopes. Oakland's Latavius Murray finished with 112 yards and two touchdowns (90-yard score) on just four carries. Carr threw for 174 yards and a score. The Chiefs' Smith threw for 234 and two TDs. The Raiders became only the third team since 1970 to beat a first-place team for its first win after losing at least 10 games to start the season. That was the ultimate definition of a trap game for Kansas City. In Week 15 in K.C., the Chiefs won 31-13. Smith threw for 297 and two scores.
Chiefs at Raiders Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Kansas City is a 2.5-point favorite (-120) with a total of 44. On the moneyline, the Chiefs are -145 and Raiders +125. On the alternate lines, K.C. is -3 (+105) and -2 (-125). The Chiefs are 6-5 against the spread (3-3 on road) and 6-4-1 "over/under" (3-2-1 on road). The Raiders are 6-5 ATS (2-3 at home) and 6-3-2 O/U (3-1-1 at home).
The Chiefs are 4-1 ATS in their past five vs. the AFC West. They are 7-2 in their past nine vs. teams with a losing record. Oakland is 4-0 ATS in its past four against the AFC. The Raiders have covered only five of their past 18 after a win. The over is 6-1 in the Raiders' past seven after a win. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 7-3 in the previous 10 in Oakland.
NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Chiefs at Raiders Betting Predictions
I don't think Houston plays, and he's one of a few defensive players that can alter your betting choice. Tough call here because the Raiders have been very hit or miss at home. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have dominated in two straight road wins. I'll take Oakland and the 3 points. Go under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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