I don't hear anyone complaining about the NFL's Thursday night schedule now! The last two TNF games have gone down to the wire, and this week's game is arguably the prime-time matchup of the regular season as 10-2 Oakland visits 9-3 Kansas City. The winner, in my opinion, will be the AFC West champion and could be the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
As things stand now, the Raiders are the top AFC team. They are tied with New England for overall record. There's no head-to-head tiebreaker to use between them, so next up is the record inside the conference. Both are 7-1. Next is win percentage against common opponents, and the Raiders hold that advantage. Should both Oakland and New England thus finish 14-2, the Raiders will have home-field advantage. The Raiders and Patriots have a total of five games against four common opponents: They each play the Texans, Ravens, Bills and Broncos, with the Patriots playing the Bills twice and the Raiders playing the Broncos twice. If both teams win out, the Raiders will be 5-0 in those five games against common opponents, while the Patriots will be 4-1.
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I do find it rather hard to see Oakland winning out as it not has just this tough trip but also visits San Diego, hosts Indianapolis and ends the regular season at Denver, which might have to win that game just to get into the playoffs. The AFC West could have three teams with double-digit wins, but obviously the best two of those clubs can do is be a wild-card team. Not really fair that a potential 8-8 AFC South champion would get a home postseason game, but those are the rules.
Kansas City has a much better chance of winning out as it hosts Tennessee and Denver the next two weeks and closes at San Diego, which likely would have nothing to play for -- but it is expected to be the team's final-ever game in the city.
Raiders at Chiefs Betting Story Lines
I'm not a Chiefs or Lions fan, but I might want those two to play in the Super Bowl because it would almost guarantee a great game. Why? Detroit has trailed in the fourth quarter of every game but one this season yet has eight wins. Kansas City, meanwhile, has wins in six games this year in which it trailed at some point by at least one touchdown.
That was the case last week in Atlanta, a game I thought the Chiefs would almost surely lose after their epic but draining and physical overtime win in Denver in Week 12. K.C. did trail by its requisite touchdown, 13-6 in the second quarter. But it took a 27-16 lead into the fourth quarter thanks in large part to a 37-yard Eric Berry interception return for a touchdown (his second such of the season) and a 55-yard Albert Wilson TD run on a fake punt for the only points of the third quarter. However, Matt Ryan led the NFL's top offense to a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns, the last with just under five minutes left for a 28-27 lead. I thought that game was over then, but Berry totally read the play call on the 2-point try -- a smart call by Atlanta to try for a field goal lead -- and returned that for the winning 2 points. Just an amazing play by Berry, who is from Atlanta and got to play a pro game there for the first time.
What's interesting is that Berry doesn't technically get credit for the pick because no passing, rushing or receiving yards, fumble, sack or interception is credited during a 2-point conversion. Berry is credited with scoring 2 points, though, and now has 14 on the year. Just another stunning win by the Chiefs to go with their miracles in Denver and Charlotte this year. Kansas City got out of that game fairly healthy but played a fourth straight without No. 1 receiver Jeremy Maclin. There's a good chance he returns for this one.
The Raiders won a sixth straight game on Sunday in rallying from a 24-9 second-quarter deficit to beat Buffalo 38-24 in Oakland's fourth home game in a row. I'm starting to think Derek Carr should be the MVP favorite as he had another strong game in throwing for 260 yards and two scores. He has now matched his win total this season from his first two combined. I'm still not sold on this team, however, as it tends to have mental lapses at times to fall behind, only for Carr and Co. to rescue things. Carr now has 13 TDs and no INTs when trailing in the second half or OT this season. That's not going to be as easy on the road.
Oakland might have lost excellent rookie safety Karl Joseph for at least this week as he was seen in a walking boot after the Buffalo game. But defensive end Mario Williams Jr., who has been on injured reserve all season, is back practicing. He doesn't necessarily have to be activated this week. Speaking of that defense, end/outside linebacker Khalil Mack has to be a favorite for Defensive Player of the Year. Mack recorded seven tackles (four solo), one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery against the Bills and has at least one sack in seven straight games. He has forced four fumbles in his past five. That 2014 draft where Oakland got Mack in Round 1 and Carr in Round 2 might go down as historically good.
Raiders at Chiefs Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Kansas City is a 3-point favorite (-130) with a total of 47.On the moneyline, the Chiefs are -185 and Raiders +160. On the alternate lines, the Chiefs are -3.5 (-105) and -2.5 (-155). Oakland is 8-4 against the spread (5-0 on road) and 10-2 "over/under" (4-1 on road). K.C. is 6-6 ATS (1-4 at home) and 4-8 O/U (1-4 at home).
The Raiders are 5-0 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a winning record. They are 10-1 ATS in their past 11 on the road. The Chiefs are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 after a win. They are 2-5 ATS in their past seven on Thursday. The over is 4-0 in Oakland's past four vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in Kansas City's past six after a win. The favorite is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 7-1 in the previous eight in K.C.
Raiders at Chiefs Betting Prediction
Kansas City would win the divisional tiebreaker with a victory here as it dominated the Raiders 26-10 in Week 6 -- Oakland's last loss. Alex Smith did what he does in that one, playing mistake-free football and completing 19 of 22 for 224 yards. Spencer Ware rushed for 131 yards and a TD. Carr wasn't great, completing 22 of 34 for 225 yards, a TD, a pick and a lost fumble. Oakland didn't have No. 1 running back Latavius Murray then.
It's going to be Chiefs weather on Thursday night, with highs forecast to be around 15 degrees. Huge advantage for the home side because the cold usually benefits the better defensive team. Thus I'm giving the points here, but may as well do the 2.5. Go under the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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