Every season, as the Las Vegas Raiders visit Kansas City, a parade of Chiefs coaches and players cycle though the media room and stand behind a lectern, and they respond to questions about “Raider Week.”
Truth is, though, the phrase has lost some of its punch — because at some point, to develop and perpetuate true animosity toward a rival, you have to feel the threat of actually losing to them more than once every few years. The Chiefs have dominated the so-called rivalry in recent seasons, and if you’re looking for the culprits, the head coach and quarterbacks are good suspects.
Let’s start with the head coach and return to the quarterback later. Andy Reid is 15-3 against the Raiders since arriving in Kansas City — and get this, he’s not been an underdog once.
Why change now?
The Chiefs are a full-touchdown favorite, precisely 7 points, when the two teams meet Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium. It’s the sixth time in the last seven of these matchups that the Chiefs will be favored by a touchdown or more.
Which leads us back to the quarterback. Patrick Mahomes is 7-1 in his career playing the Raiders, and in those eight starts, his offenses have reached the end zone at least four times in all of them. Not one exception.
He has a career 112.4 quarterback rating against the Raiders, bolstered by two meetings last year in which he threw 7 touchdowns without an interception.
I’ll ask again: Why change now?
The Raiders are allowing 7.52 yards per pass attempt, which ranks 27th in the NFL. It doesn’t help that they have the league’s second-to-last sack rate, just 3.7%.
All of the signs point not only to a Chiefs win, but also a Chiefs cover.
The Chiefs are 2-2 against the spread this year; they actually finished as underdogs in Tampa Bay last week. Las Vegas is 1-3 against the spread.
The over/under for the game is 51 points.
The pick: Chiefs 38, Raiders 17
Last week’s pick: Chiefs (pick ‘em)
My record against the spread this year: 3-1
1. Patrick Mahomes, over 275.5 passing yards
Um, see above.
Going with history here. Mahomes has fallen below this number in three consecutive games, albeit barely, which might make taking the over a bit of a trap, but I’ll fall for it: He has topped this number in six of the eight career matchups against the Raiders, and the Raiders pass defense will allow the opportunity for a big night.
2. L’Jarius Sneed, over 6.5 tackles (solo plus assists)
Sneed is having a breakout year in his third NFL season, a transformation from a reliable cornerback to a Pro Bowl-caliber player. The fact that he plays in the slot against three-receiver sets, therefore becoming involved in the running game, helps this particular wager.
Sneed has recorded at least seven total tackles in all four games this season. In the last three, he’s been on the field for every defensive snap. That helps, too.
3. Derek Carr, longest completion is under 36.5 yards
Took this one last week with Tom Brady, and it cashed. Feels like this line is set more on reputation than the new reality of the initial four weeks. The Chiefs were destroyed by explosive plays a year ago, but they’ve yet to allow a 40-yard passing play all season.
Add to that, Carr’s receiving threats aren’t known for the deep passes. (Davante Adams is a terrific wide receiver, but his career yards per catch is just 12.1.) In the last three weeks, Carr has completed one pass that gained more than 23 yards, which, of course, is the risk in this bet. All it takes is one play to flip this into a losing bet.
Prop bet record last week: 2-1
Prop bet season record: 6-6