Matt’s 2018 Individual Game Record: 11-8 (ATS & O/U)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Free NFL Pick: Chiefs -13.5
Best Line Offered: BetPhoenix
Quite the dichotomy of motivations for the Raiders and Chiefs from Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. It benefits Jon Gruden and his rebuilding plan in Oakland to lose this game and achieve the highest possible draft pick in April’s first round. Right now, the Raiders would pick fourth as they are the last of three 4-11 teams — also 49ers and Jets — because of their higher strength of schedule number. Alas, it’s very likely that both the Niners and Jets lose Sunday so it may not matter.
Kansas City, meanwhile, takes the AFC’s top seed (and AFC West title) with a win, meaning it wouldn’t leave the comforts of Arrowhead Stadium except to head to Atlanta for the Super Bowl. The Chiefs also would get the top seed with an unlikely tie and Chargers loss in Denver. They also would with a loss as long as the Chargers, Patriots (vs. Jets) and Texans (vs. Jaguars) all lose. None of those are expected to happen. A loss, and Kansas City likely would slip all the way to the No. 5 wild-card spot if the Chargers win in Denver. Then again, perhaps the Chiefs would prefer to open the playoffs on the road. They have dropped six straight home playoff games, including an absolute choke job last year vs. the Titans.
KC has won seven of eight vs the Raiders. It was 40-33 in Oakland in Week 13, failing to cover a 14-point spread. Patrick Mahomes threw for 295 yards and four scores, with Travis Kelce catching 12 balls for 168 yards and two scores. That was the Chiefs’ first game after releasing Kareem Hunt. Oakland was fine offensively with 442 yards but turned it over three times.
Raiders Off Emotional Win
Can terrible teams have letdown games? If so, this sure feels like one for the Raiders. They beat Denver on Monday night 27-14 in what could be the team’s final-ever game in Oakland with the current legal mess involving a federal lawsuit regarding the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in 2020. How are the players not going to be hugely flat off an emotional win, on a short week, in a very loud stadium and in chilly temperatures?
Doug Martin had his best game of the season (against my fantasy team! F***!) with 21 carries for 107 yards and a score, and Dwayne Harris tied an NFL record with a 99-yard punt return for a score. Oakland had been the only team in the NFL without a division victory this season and had lost six straight vs the AFC West.
Kansas City could have made this game meaningless with a win last Sunday night, but it’s never easy to win in Seattle and the Chiefs fell 38-31. They are now 0-4 ATS since releasing Hunt. Mahomes did his part with three more TD passes (league-leading 48), and third-string RB Damian Williams had another strong game with 140 yards from scrimmage and a TD.
Per usual, the defense is the Chiefs’ problem. Seattle, not exactly a high-powered team, had 464 yards and 210 on the ground in dominating time of possession. Hard to see the Chiefs reaching a Super Bowl if they can’t stop the run. They are tied for last in allowing 5.0 yards per carry and second-from-last in having allowed 19 rushing TDs.
- Chiefs are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 vs. AFC West.
- Raiders are 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Raiders are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 meetings in Kansas City.
I generally take these many points on an underdog, and I might at +14.5, but I truly believe the Raiders will be going through the motions here. So many intangibles against them. Oakland also is 1-10 ATS in its past 12 after a win. Give the 13.5 points as Chiefs land the top seed.