They may have snuck up on a few people this season. But suddenly the Oakland Raiders, on the way to Vegas, are still in the thick of the AFC West race. In fact, they can pull into a flat-footed tie with the Kansas City Chiefs with a victory on Sunday. These teams will kick it off at 4:25 PM ET at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. And here’s a reminder for you – you can place wagers while this game is happening. How? Well, if you are BetAnySports customer, you can watch the game on CBS and use Sports Betting Ultra.
The Chiefs, who last played a couple of weeks ago in Mexico against the Chargers, are coming off a bye week. They are sitting with a 7-4 straight-up record (5-6 ATS). But the Raiders are the team that is putting pressure on them. Oakland (6-5 SU & ATS) had a lot of drama at the outset of the season because of the Antonio Brown situation. But they have settled down and played pretty well. Let’s put it this way – they have largely beaten the teams that they should have beaten. Except maybe for last week, as they were blown out 34-3 by the New York Jets.
Raiders off an ugly outing
Things were very ugly in that game in the Meadowlands. Oakland had only ten first downs and 208 total yards. And they let Sam Darnold threw for 315 yards and run for a touchdown. You can’t say they were never in the game, because they were only down 13-3 at the half. But they were just flat all the way.
A performance like that obviously won’t do in Kansas City. And you’ll have to search for answers on how they will improve on it. Patrick Mahomes, last year’s Most Valuable Player, beat Oakland 20-10 in the season’s second week. He threw for 443 yards and four touchdowns, all of which came in the second quarter.
Raiders – what to do about the secondary?
Oakland’s pass defense is a huge problem. They have allowed 26 touchdown passes with only eight interceptions. And opposing quarterbacks have thrown for 7.9 yards per attempt with a cumulative rating of 104.9. That’s bad. About as bad as exists in the NFL, with maybe a couple of exceptions. Considering that they are not likely to get to Mahomes very much, as he’s been sacked only 11 times, this could be like the “shooting gallery” effect.
Here are the numbers….
In the pro football betting odds that have been posted on this game, the Chiefs are favored by double digits:
|Raiders||+10½ (-104)||49½ (-110)||+451|
|Chiefs||-10½ (-116)||49½ (-110)||-607|
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The Chiefs are like a sieve too
Kansas City’s secondary is much better than that of Oakland; in fact, they’ve allowed a quarterback rating of only 87.2. But they just haven’t figured out a way to slow down quality ground attacks. And one thing Gruden has always done is emphasize the run game as a way to achieve balance. That’s why he used a first-round draft pick to take Josh Jacobs out of Alabama. Jacobs has pretty much hit a home run for the Raiders. He is currently at 957 yards, averaging 4.8 per carry, and he’s done a good job keeping the pressure off quarterback Derek Carr.
Key to Raiders offense – protection
This offensive line, which includes Kolton Miller at left tackle, has really done its job. Offensively, Oakland is fifth-best in the league in Adjusted Sack Rate. Carr has been efficient as a passer, completing almost 71% with only six interceptions in 337 attempts. He’ll throw the ball short and let his receivers run with it. Last year tight end Jared Cook was probably his best target. In fact, he made the Pro Bowl with 68 receptions. But then he left the fold, and Darren Waller has picked up the slack. The fourth-your pro out of Georgia Tech has now caught 59 passes for 707 yards.
The bad news for the Raiders here is that Hunter Renfrow, who has the most receptions among Oakland’s wide receivers, has been ruled out with a broken rib and a punctured lung. That could significantly hurt the Raiders, who actually have a better third-down conversion rate than the Chiefs.
Fundamentally, it may not look like the Raiders can hang in there, especially with their porous secondary. But they’ve been pretty good as an underdog, covering five of six. And with Jacobs, they can exploit Kansas City’s biggest weakness. We’re not saying they can take this right to the final gun, but there’s a lot of room in this number.
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