The Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders will face off on Thursday night in the battle for the AFC West, which could have even larger post-season ramifications with both sides determined to snatch a first-round bye.
The Chiefs along with the Raiders are one of the hottest teams in the NFL at the moment, losing just one of their last eight contests. They’ve displayed their battling qualities over the past two weeks, edging out two quality sides in the form of the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons to put the pressure on their west-coasts rivals.
Jack Del Rio’s men are currently sitting in the number one seed in the AFC Conference, narrowly ahead of the New England Patriots due to their superior strength-of-schedule record. The Raiders know that a win will take them closer to a bye, while also putting them within a match of securing their division.
Kansas City have been incredibly strong on home soil this season, losing just one of their five matches, which was a stunning defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last time out. With Bovada Sportsbook, Andy Reid’s side are backed on the money line at -150 to secure their second win of the term over the Raiders.
Del Rio’s men are currently on a six-match winning streak, and have proven their Super Bowl credentials with two huge wins on the bounce. They have produced memorable comebacks against the Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills to keep them in the number one seed. At +130 they provide good value for a strong performance on the road against their rivals in a must-win game.
The Bovada spread is enticing due to the fact that the Chiefs play so many tight contests and at +3 given the way Oakland are able to move the ball on offense it’s an very intriguing bet to take, which the Raiders should be able to cover.
Chiefs Make Surge For The Playoffs
Going into their bye week the Chiefs had a lot of soul searching to do, having been hammered by the Pittsburgh Steelers 43-14 at Heinz Field, with the scoreline flattering the AFC West side. However, they reeled off three –straight wins, beginning with a dominating performance against the Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum before easing past the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts.
They struggled against the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars before pulling out the win before facing the Carolina Panthers. The Chiefs had already stage one memorable comeback in week one to beat the San Diego Chargers, but this one might have been more memorable as they came from 17-3 down to beat last season’s NFC Champions.
Eric Berry produced a pick-six of Cam Newton and another important play from Marcus Peters to set up a game-winning field from the boot of Cairo Santos to snatch the victory as time expired at Bank of America Stadium. However, a major let down was to occur in the next outing against the Buccaneers, losing 19-17 to the NFC South outfit. Reid has men may look at that game with regret come the end of the season should they miss out on a first-round bye.
Since that defeat the Chiefs have produced their best two performances of the season to knock off their nemesis the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons both on the road. Reid’s men needed another miraculous win to beat the reigning Super Bowl champions, notching a last-second score from Tyreek Hill before Santos won the game in overtime thanks to a gaffe from Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak in attempting a 62-yard field goal.
Berry would make his case to become the club’s MVP for the 2016 with another match-winning play against the Falcons. Kansas City performed well to go to-toe with only of the league’s best offenses, but the home side were on the verge of a two-point lead having scored a go-ahead touchdown. However, the All-Pro safety made an interception on the two-point conversion and ran it all the way back to put the Chiefs back into the lead, which was enough to secure the win.
Reid’s men are peaking just at the right time and have the talent on both sides of the ball to make a lot of noise in the playoffs and perhaps have the ability to go one further than last season and play for place in the Super Bowl.
Raiders Aim To End Playoff Drought
The Raiders have a lot to play for against the Chiefs as they aim to end one of the longest post-season droughts in the NFL. The last time Oakland played in the post-season was the 2002 campaign when they reached the Super Bowl, only to be denied by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and former head coach Jon Gruden, who they had fired during the previous off-season. Ouch.
Since Derek Carr has taken the reins at quarterback, hope has sprung eternal at the Black Hole and this season has his been a breakout year that everyone following the club had hoped that it would be. He has been simply sensational and is worthy of the talk, considering him in the mix to be named MVP.
His performances in the last two weeks alone have put him in the conversation, driving the Raiders back from huge deficits against the Panthers and the Bills to claim back-to-back wins to put them well on their way to the post-season.
The quarterback has been helped by the performances of wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, with the former closing in on his second 1,000-yard season of his two-year career. Their offense has needed to be on form as their defensive struggles have been well noted this term.
Other than Khalil Mack, the Raiders have failed to get much production from their defense, they’ve put their colleagues on the other side of the ball in trouble on several occasions this season, including the past two weeks, only to have been bailed out by Carr and company.They cannot afford to do this down the stretch and into the playoffs if they are to make a surge for the Vince Lombardi trophy.
There is enough talent on their roster to compete for the crown, but they will need to make improvements, despite their impressive 10-2 record for acclimatise themselves for January football. Oakland’s clash against the Chiefs will be extremely telling about their chances going forward into the playoffs.
Who Has The Edge?
The Chiefs will be determined to sweep Oakland, giving them control of the AFC West. Reid’s men have an abundance of talent on defense to keep Carr along with Cooper and Crabtree quiet enough to allow quarterback Alex Smith to go to work.
It should be a close contest as neither side is good enough to blow one another out, but Kansas City should have the edge to claim their 10th win of the season.
Kansas City Chiefs to beat Oakland Raiders
Thursday 8th December, 20:25 ET (Friday 9th December 01:25 GMT)
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