TNF – Week 14 – Raiders @ Chiefs – Battle for the AFC West

Quick word of warning, even for me, this is quite a long write up… I am excited for this matchup!

We’re well and truly into the business end of the season now, and the first night of the week could well be the most important one played! Two great teams with fascinatingly different DNA, but both successful in their own way. The winner tonight will probably take the division and probably the 1 or 2 seed meaning a bye week going into the playoffs, while the loser will have to make their way through the playoffs, albeit with more than likely a home game. The first match between the two in Oakland ran out a comfortable Chiefs win, they were coming off a bye week and always win off a bye, Spencer ware got one of three rushing TDs, and Alex Smith threw to 10 different receivers while Carr threw mainly to Cooper, and only got himself 1 TD and 1 INT finishing with just 1 more yard than Smith. It’s obviously worth saying they were both much different teams back then. Since that the Raiders have gone from strength to strength and never believe they’re beaten, while the Chiefs are still hugely under the radar despite winning 19 of their last 22 regular season games. They just don’t play exciting football so get largely ignored. The Raiders however are great to watch, and if I was looking for a team right now i’d probably pick them. It’s not that often I mention the weather, although it may be happening more and more now it’s getting worse, but tonight is expected to be around 20f, with the windchill making it feel like 12 Fahrenheit, the theory is that the cold weather will mean more of a running game and make passing harder, and probably make the kickers job more difficult too. The Chiefs will at least be more used to that weather, combine that the to the home support in arrowhead and the usual Thursday night advantage for the home team, and the Chiefs are a deserved favourite.

The Raiders sit atop the AFC West, and indeed, the whole AFC with a 10-2 record, they came back from 9-24 with just over 5 mins left in the third quarter to reel off a massive 29 points unanswered to, in the end, easily defeat the Buffalo Bills. Not only was the offence dynamite in the final third of that game, but the defence stepped up, in particular Khalil Mack who is getting into the kind of form we all expected from him at the start of the season, and at this moment in time is in the top 5 candidates for Defensive player of the year (probably alongside a couple of tonight’s opponents) Derek Carr is playing at an MVP level right now, he’s accomplished, he’s accurate, and he’s solid when it comes to crunch time, his stats last week weren’t mind blowing, but he’s performing when the time calls for it to help lead his team to wins. It helps that the AC/DC connection is still going strong, add to that a lot of Michael Crabtree, and you’ve got one of the best receiving corps in the league, Crabtree gets the bulk of the catches, but Amari Cooper is the more exciting when he catches the ball, he can make things happen. Personally I do think that Crabtree is the more likely TD threat though due to his biggest size. It definitely helps that they seem to have got their running game working recently too, Latavius Murray has himself 6 TDs in his last 4 only missing out vs the Texans in the thin air of mexico city and scoring twice last week against the Bills. He won’t ever blow a team away with yards, but he just keeps going, it helps that he adds a lot of yardage catching from the backfield as well. The emergence of Jalen Richard has helped Murray as well as it gives him a break and adds yet another facet to the already loaded Raiders offence. Their tight end has the best surname in football, Clive Walford (check the about page for why it’s the best name…) I thought he was due a breakout year this season, but it hasn’t materialised, he’s had far too many drops in the end zone, but hauled in a beauty 2 weeks ago, so maybe he’s not completely out of contention TD wise. One man who is targeted a lot in the red zone is Seth Roberts, he’s been stealing Cooper and Crabtree’s TDs all season long, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get in again tonight, he should of had more than his stats showed last week. While the KC Chiefs have a good defence, they are susceptible to the passing game especially the side opposite Marcus Peters, he plays around 95% of his game on the left hand side of the D, so it’s worth noting that the first game between these to, the usually peppered Crabtree caught only 2 from 4 targets, while Cooper was in double digit catches.

And onto the Chiefs, there’s not a lot more to say than I said for the match at the weekend. They’re not an explosive side, but they know what needs to be done, and they generally find a way of making that happen, Sundays match was won basically by Eric Berry, returning to Atlanta where he successfully underwent cancer treatment, he returned and INT to the house for 6, and then won the game with a 2 pt conversion interception taken all the way to put them 1 point ahead as opposed to 3 points behind, as they seem to say with alarming regularity in the states at the moment. A clutch performance. The Chiefs D is their strength, it’s great, they give up a lot of yardage, but they create a lot of turnovers, and with Justin Houston back now, Dee Ford back last week, they’re stronger than they have been for most of the season. The offence is run by Alex Smith, his main job is to make sure he doesn’t fuck up, he runs on short passes to the open man and minimal risk, he’s thrown 11 TDs, and just the 4 INTs on the season. Boring as hell, but hugely effective when you’ve got the defence they have. He welcomes back Mr. Reliable, Jeremy Maclin for today, he’s not going to blow you away, but he moves the sticks and keeps his team on the field, his return probably means a downtick for TE Travis Kelce who’s the first man in Smiths career to have 100 yards receiving in 3 consecutive weeks, I expect that to be lower today unfortunately, however, Maclin back could conceivably mean good things for fire cracker Tyreek Hill, the kid has wheels! A 4.24s 40yd, is pretty electric and if he gets free in the open field, you’re not going to catch him. He was kept relatively quiet against the Falcons last week though, so it’ll good to see how they use him tonight. Spencer Ware is the man at running back for them, and he got back into the end zone with a vengance last week, going in twice, once rushing and once receiving for his first scores in 5 games. He scored against the Raiders in the first match up (one of 3 rushing TDs), and they are ‘weak’ on the right side of their defence, so there’s a good chance the Chiefs will work on that and try to get Ware in again. Other than that, there’s not a huge amount there on offence for KC, they just don’t need to do much in most matches, so frankly, they don’t.

A tough game to call, but I think I’ve got to lean with the home side, they win. It’s never pretty, or exciting, but it’s what they do. So many things to choose from tonight, I turned down a D/ST TD at 13/8, Seth Roberts anytime at 3/1 was tempting, as was Olawale at 6/1 (seeing as I didn’t even mention him in write up it would be silly to tip him)

  • Chiefs by 1-13 points – 11/10 (PP)
  • 1st TD Scorer – Spencer Ware – 8/1 (Ladbrokes)
  • 1st TD Scorer – Lat. Murray – 17/2 (365)
  • Latavius Murray o24.5 rec. yards – 4/5 (365)
  • Ware and Murray to score – 3/1 (Skybet)
  • Hill and Cooper to score – 11/2 (Skybet)
  • Crazy request-a-bet – Kansas City to Win (-7), Under 48.5 Match Pts, S.Ware to Score a TD Anytime & Kansas DEF/Special Team TD Anytime – 33/1 (1pt Skybet)

Probably too many to back in one night, but I think this could be a special game (watch it be 9-6 now) – 13 points tipped above. – Obvious going to be at least one loser there as Ware and Murray can’t both win, but at 8/1 and above on each in a game where I think it’s more likely to be run heavy, I can’t turn it down. (Skybet have 4/1 on the double chance of them scoring first…)

Good Luck if you’re following anything and well done for making it to the end… 1500 words on one game.. I am pooped.

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