Kansas City Chiefs (5-4) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)
This game is a tough call. On one hand, the Chiefs have played better than their 5-4 record, while the Raiders have played worse than their 5-3 record. The Chiefs’ biggest issues are they have faced one of the toughest schedules in the league (8th highest opponent’s DVOA), they have had one of the worst turnover margins in the league (2nd worst in the NFL at -9), and they have had one of the worst defenses in the league (31st in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency).
The Chiefs offense has continued to rank among the best in the league on the season, ranking 2nd in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, as they also have one of the best special teams (1st in special teams DVOA) and their other issues should resolve themselves going forward, as turnover margins are highly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, the Chiefs’ defense has gotten significantly healthier since earlier this season and has played better in recent weeks as a result, and their schedule eases up relatively going forward. The Raiders, meanwhile, have faced a below average schedule, but they have had to go to overtime to win twice and have just a +7 point differential, while ranking 14th, 4th, and 26th in schedule adjusted efficiency on offense, defense, and special teams respectively.
However, it seems like the public and the odds makers see things the same way, as the Chiefs are favored by 2.5 points on the road in Las Vegas. Given that, I am actually going to be taking the Raiders in this one, as I am actually a little bit concerned about the Chiefs’ offense, which, even though it ranks among the best in the league in yards per play and first down rate on the season, has slowed down significantly in both metrics over the past few weeks, coinciding with injuries at the running back position and on the offensive line. My calculated line has the Chiefs favored by 1.5, so we’re hardly getting any line value with the Raiders, but they would be my pick for pick ‘em purposes.
Kansas City Chiefs 26 Las Vegas Raiders 24
Pick against the spread: Las Vegas +2.5