December 8, 2016
Two of the hottest teams in the NFL reside in the AFC West and will be going head to head tonight in a game that could determine who wins the Division. The 9-3 Kansas City Chiefs will host an Oakland Raiders squad that hasn’t lost a game since they faced KC seven weeks ago. Beating the Raiders has been hard period. Beating them in the “Black Hole” says a lot about how far this Chiefs team has come this season. Football experts have Kansas City favored by 3 at Arrowhead Stadium, but Oakland has been bucking the odds all year long.
It terms of defense both of these teams are in the bottom 5, but they are worlds apart in points allowed. The Chiefs recently got Justin Houston back on D and it’s adding to a unit that was only allowing 20.2 points per game. The key for KC this season has been their increased production offensively. They are more balanced than they’ve been in years’ with Spencer Ware leading the way on the ground, and Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill receiving. Alex Smith has been efficient as usual despite not having his best down field weapon (Jeremy Maclin) for several games. Maclin will be back tonight, but we should expect Andy Reid and company to stick to a ground and pound attack that keeps the ball out of the hands of the high octane Raiders offense.
Derek Carr has his breakthrough season last year. This season he is the front runner for MVP in leading his team to double-digit wins despite having an average defense. Oakland is 3rd in the league in points per game with an average of nearly 29. Sustaining that dominance in Kansas City will be tough. Latavius Murray has been average in terms of rushing numbers, yet he’s managed to reach the end zone 11 times through 12 games. His play in the redzone Thursday night could play a big role in the outcome, and there’s little doubt that he will have opportunities.
NFL handicappers have given the 3 point edge to the Chiefs in this showdown, but that essentially means it’s an even match-up considering 3 points is what most teams get for having the home field. This is a critical game for both teams, and has the potential to be one of the best weekday games this season. Tune in for what will be a closely contested battle that comes down to the final possession.