The Kansas City Chiefs are 17-1 in their last 18 games, but the one loss was to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 5. The Raiders (6-3) will look to complete one of the more improbable division sweeps in recent time on Sunday Night Football as this rivalry has its first meeting in new Allegiant Stadium.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Sunday, November 22, 2020 – 08:20 PM EST at Allegiant Stadium
The Chiefs are a 7-point favorite with a total of 56.5 points on most NFL betting sites. The Raiders could be in a difficult spot on defense after defensive end Clein Ferrell and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. That led to most of the starting defense being placed on the COVID-19 list as close contacts. Assuming these players avoid a positive
Derek Carr’s Career Day Sparked Week 5 Upset
NFL teams favored by at least nine points are 17-1 SU this season. That means the Raiders’ 40-32 win in Kansas City is the only time this season a multi-score underdog (Raiders were +11 on the NFL odds board) won outright, so you could call it the upset of 2020 by the numbers. How did it happen? The first half was a 24-24 shootout, but the third quarter was scoreless before the Raiders scored 16 straight points to hand Patrick Mahomes the largest second-half deficit of his career. Mahomes cut Las Vegas’ lead in half with a touchdown and two-point conversion, but Derek Carr put the game away with a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 to deny Mahomes a final chance with the ball. For some reason, Carr’s great performance flew under the radar. It was the difference in the game, and it was the worst performance by the Kansas City defense in the last two seasons.
I’m going to explain this game in a way that gives Carr, who is quietly having the best season of his career, credit for his Week 5 performance, but it also will give Kansas City supporters hope that it won’t happen again on Sunday night. Carr has played 103 games in the NFL. Week 5 was the only time he has ever thrown two 50-yard touchdown passes in the same game. He had the fourth (72 yards) and tied for 10th (59) longest touchdown passes of his career against the Chiefs. He also hit a 46-yard deep ball to Henry Ruggs on a third-and-10 to start the game, and he hit a 42-yard pass to Hunter Renfrow on third-and-18 in the fourth quarter to avoid a three-and-out.
Carr is not known for taking and making a lot of deep shots, but he was on the money that day. He also rushed for two critical quarterback sneaks on fourth down late in the game, which is also uncharacteristic of his playing style. It was really the most anti-Derek Carr game Carr has ever had. Can he be trusted to do it again? He has not thrown for more than 165 yards in his last three games, but the Raiders have been rushing for at least 160 yards every week in that time.
But that is another reason to be optimistic about the Chiefs winning this rematch. In Week 5, the Raiders finished with 35 carries for 144 yards. That sounds
Where Can the Chiefs Improve on Offense?
As for the other side of the ball, the Raiders forced Mahomes into a career-high 21 incompletions in Week 5. Only one pass was marked as a drop, so that was not the issue. The Raiders defended seven passes and grabbed the only interception on Mahomes’ stat sheet in 2020. Mahomes and Carr have the two lowest interception rates in 2020.
The Raiders were able to get 3.0 sacks and good pressure on Mahomes without blitzing much, which is always crucial. Despite this, the Chiefs were on a roll with 24 first-half points, and they even had two touchdowns called back for penalties. The part to focus on was the first four drives of the second half when the Raiders held the Chiefs to three punts and an interception, the only time this season the Chiefs were held scoreless on four straight possessions.
On those drives, the Chiefs failed on all five designed rushing attempts, including a third-and-short where they got too cute with a handoff to Tyreek Hill. Mahomes was under decent pressure from the edges. That could be a problem with the Chiefs placing both starting tackles (Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz) on the COVID-19 reserve list, but at least Fisher is expected to play. The running game has also been missing in action the last two games for the Chiefs despite the addition of Le’Veon Bell.
This one is going to be on Mahomes and the receivers to play sharper than they did last time out, but again, we don’t know if the Raiders will have any more positive tests on defense before Sunday night. The Raiders rank 27th in points per drive allowed, so this was already an underperforming unit.
The Raiders are no pushovers this season, but even with the change in venue and Week 5 result, the Chiefs are still a touchdown favorite in this one. The Raiders have a potentially serious COVID situation to worry about, and the Chiefs should be well-rested coming off a bye week where Andy Reid teams are notoriously 18-3 in the next game in the regular season (5-2 in playoffs). For my NFL picks