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NFL Week 14 TNF: Raiders vs. Chiefs Over/Under Prediction

Oakland Raiders(10-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs(9-3)

  • Where: Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City, MO
  • When: December 8, 2016 8:25 pm EST
  • Spread: Raiders +3.5 (-110) vs. Chiefs -3.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Raiders (+144) vs. Chiefs (-169)
  • Over / Under: Over 46.5 (-110) vs. Under 46.5 (-110)

Thursday Night Football is about to get a swift kick in the pants.

Widely panned by critics (including John Madden) as a sloppy, fatigue-addled exhibition of prime-time NFL football, this week the series hosts an enormously important AFC West clash between the 10-2 Oakland Raiders and the home-standing Kansas City Chiefs, 1 game back at 9-3.

Each team is coming off a dramatic Week 13 triumph. The Raiders fought off a serious Cam Newton rally in the 2nd half to beat Carolina 35-32, while the Chiefs found a novel way to win in Atlanta. After the Falcons scored to take a 28-27 lead late in the 4th quarter, Matt Ryan lofted up a careless pass in the flat attempting to convert for 2. An interception by speedy Eric Berry and a 100-yard jaunt later, the visitors scored a “pick 2” safety and won 29-28.

KC beat Oakland in their 1st meeting in October. A Chiefs win on TNF would secure a head-to-head tie-breaker and go a long way toward claiming a division crown for the City of Fountains.

The TNF match-up is a study in contrasting head coaches, the cool scientific precision of Chiefs skipper Andy Reid against the outlaw gambler Jack Del Rio. The firebrand Raider HC has already sent a shot across the bow this week, hinting that veteran opposing QB Alex Smith is “gimmicky” and weak in the pocket-passing game.

While Reid has since downplayed Del Rio’s remarks as complimentary, Smith is clearly spitting mad. That could be bad news for the Oakland defense.

Del Rio’s fast-and-loose play calling style can adversely affect bettors playing the under, as you never know when the Raiders will gamble and open things up.

Bovada lists the Chiefs as a slight money line favorite at -169, with a modest O/U of 46.5.

Turning the Skull & Bones Around

Raiders vs. Chiefs TNF PicksHistorically, the Raiders have pursued a style of offense that made QB a veteran-only role. Backs were drafted to block, catch passes and carry the football – in that order. Quarterbacks such as Ken Stabler were instructed not to throw a pass until they saw the numbers on a WR’s jersey. In that environment, only passers with a many years of experience could succeed.

In his 3rd season, QB Derek Carr has found a home with the modern timing-routes and power running game of the 2016-17 Raiders. Carr has thrown for 24 touchdowns and only 5 INTs on the season as the team ranks 3rd out of 32 teams in scoring and 4th in passing yards. Del Rio has shown a flair for gambling in clutch situations, steering the squad to a dramatic OT win over Tampa with a gutsy pass-play call on 4th down.

4th year power-back Latavius Murray leads a “backfield committee” that has combined for 1375 yards and 14 touchdowns despite a lack of star power.

Carr’s growing pains surfaced in the 26-10 Week 6 loss to Kansas City, when he was intercepted and outplayed by the veteran Smith. However, since then the Raiders have won 6 in a row, averaging well over 30 points per game during the streak.

Kansas City – Methodical and Balanced

The Chiefs have recovered from a 43-14 loss at Pittsburgh in Week 4 to win 7 out of their last 8, but still stand in 2nd place in the West due to the resurgent Raiders. For a supposedly weak pocket passer, Alex Smith has been potent at times through the air. In Sunday’s win at Atlanta, Smith was a sterling 21-for-25 for 270 yards.

The grizzled QB’s only failing on the stat sheet has been a lack of passing TDs, with only 11 recorded on the year. However, on a team playing as well as Kansas City that just means coaches trust RBs to strike pay dirt in goal-to-go situations.

Watch the running games of both teams early on Thursday night before wagering an in-play. Oakland’s ground attack is a simple power formula – daylight in the 1st half means the visitors are controlling the LOS. In contrast, the Chiefs use a post-Bill Walsh playbook that relies on angles and deception when blocking. A bad series or 2 running the ball doesn’t mean much, as KC can find a schematic advantage and turn things around on the ground.

KC beat reporters are writing that speedy WR Jeremy Maclin is practicing and should play on Thursday despite being listed as questionable – good news for those looking to wager on the hosts to win.

Feeling The Over

We’re betting on over 46.5 points (-110) at the Bovada Sportsbook on Thursday Night Football.

Any prediction as to which team prevails this Thursday is risky. Kansas City’s pass rush will enjoy a home-field advantage, but Carr is young, mobile and having the more prolific season of the 2 starting QBs. The Chiefs won on the road in Oakland, but the Raider offense has blossomed since then and will not be held to a paltry 10 points this time.

The tight spread and money line promise a healthy payout for either winner, but better value can be found in the over. Almost all of Oakland’s injuries are on defense, while the Chiefs offense is miraculously healthy for Week 14 and can flank a recovered Maclin outside to take advantage of his speed. Meanwhile, Derek Carr is making the most of playing behind a burly OL and will produce on throws down the field.

If KC is winning, they can’t afford to play it safe. If Oakland is winning, look for Del Rio to keep Carr firing well into the 2nd half looking for “insurance” points against a hot home team. Any Thursday night fatigue will be overshadowed by the emotion and focus of 2 contending division rivals in a game with massive implications.

A 24-23 win for either side will surpass the O/U line. With 2 fine quarterbacks at the top of their craft, 4th-quarter fireworks should safeguard your wager.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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