AFC Game Of The Week
Oakland Raiders (10-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
Raiders: The last few years around this time of the season, they were always mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. This year, it’s a much different story. The silver and black are back and they are fighting for the top seed in the AFC with New England with an MVP favorite in Derek Carr and right now if the season were to end, he’d have my vote because I feel if you remove him from the equation, this football isn’t 10-2 and in first place in their division. A few weeks ago when he dislocated that finger, he was out for a few plays and the Raiders struggled. When he comes back, they come back to beat the Panthers. Last week, they were down and he led them to a come from behind win over the Bills. During my Summer previews of each division, I had the Oakland Raiders winning this division and they’re close to accomplishing that. Their defense may not be lights out, but they make a play when they have too. They gave up a few of those “home run” type of plays on Sunday but made sure they cut that down in the second half. Thursday night will tell us a lot about how this division will wind up.
Chiefs: After that tough loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a few weeks ago at home, the Kansas City Chiefs have bounced back nicely. They went into Denver a few weeks ago on a Sunday night and fought back to win the game on a game-winning field goal and last week, they beat the Falcons on a bizarre play that saw Eric Berry intercept Matt Ryan for a two-point conversion. They’ve won two in a row and both those have come on the road. It’s tough to win one game on the road, but two? Impressive. If you look at the numbers, defensively, they’re ranked at the bottom. What has helped them has been their ability to create takeaways and turn those into points along with creating great field position for Alex Smith and the offense. Now, let’s look at that side of the ball. The running game really needs a jolt of energy. Spencer Ware has only a single 100-yard rushing game this year and hasn’t gone over 77 yards since then and the offensive line is also a cause for concern and by far the biggest weakness of the team and they can’t allow Alex Smith to be running for his life too much. Arrowhead will be rocking tomorrow night.
Raiders Player To Watch: Nate Allen– His big assignment will be guarding Travis Kelce and the Raiders have had a hard time defending tight ends for the last two seasons. Kelce’s 65 catches and 815 yards receiving definitely speaks for itself. It won’t be easy, but he’ll have to try to limit Kelce from making some big plays.
Chiefs Player To Watch: Spencer Ware– The last time the Chiefs met the Raiders, Ware was the main reason and he had a big game. Ever since then, he’s been very up and down in the ground aspect of things. In the past three weeks, he’s carried the ball a total of 47 times for 194 yards. That’s only 4 yards per carry. The Chiefs have struggled big time on third and short and this problem could be resolved with a more consistent ground attack. Wake up Spencer.
Prediction: This game will determine who wins this division. It’s come down to these two. Both teams still have showdowns with Denver and San Diego to wrap things up this season but these two have clearly been the two best teams in the AFC West. I’m picking the Oakland Raiders to win this game on the road. Raiders 27 Chiefs 21