Las Vegas Raiders (2-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
The Raiders got some early hype after their 2-0 start, including a nationally televised win over the Saints week 2, but they barely beat the Panthers week 1 and their win over the Saints wasn’t as impressive as it seemed, as the Saints were banged up, typically start seasons slow, and still won the first down rate battle by +8.77%, despite the final score. Over the past two weeks, the Raiders have been exposed more against a pair of tough teams in the Patriots and Bills.
Injuries have been part of the problem over the past two weeks, as the Raiders were without a pair of starting offensive lineman and their starting outside wide receivers last week. They’re expected to get right tackle Trent Brown and wide receiver Henry Ruggs back from injury this week, but left guard Richie Incognito and their other outside wide receiver Bryan Edwards remain out and they’ll also be without a key player on defense in defensive tackle Maurice Hurst. Overall, they rank just 26th in my roster rankings in their current state.
That’s going to be a problem for the Raiders on the road in Kansas City against arguably the top team in the league. Dating back to week 11 of last season, the Chiefs have won 13 straight games, including 3 playoff games, and they’ve won those games by an average of 14.4 points per game with a +8.57% first down rate differential over that stretch, including a 2nd ranked +7.04 first down rate differential through 4 games of this season. They’re also very healthy relative to the rest of the league, both top cornerback Chavarius Ward and top defensive lineman Chris Jones set to play this week after missing some time earlier this season. The Chiefs should be able to win with relative ease over the Raiders, though this line is high enough at -11.5 that I wouldn’t want to bet this one.
Kansas City Chiefs 34 Las Vegas Raiders 20
Pick against the spread: Kansas City -11.5