After another week of NFL action, the postseason picture is as unclear as ever. The Kansas City Chiefs travel to Oakland for this week’s highlight fixture with the Chief vs. Raiders odds pointing towards a fairly event contest. Read on for some expert Chiefs vs. Raiders betting insight.
Live Chiefs vs. Raiders odds
We’ve had around one-third of the regular season, and whilst few sides are wholly out of contention for a postseason berth, some of last year’s contenders are leaving little room for error in the remaining matches. The Raiders need a win to get their season back on track but they’re coming up against an impressive Kansas City team.
An unpredictable season so far
The AFC is proving most consistent of the two conferences compared to 2016. Four of the six AFC playoff teams from 2016 again hold a postseason seeding position in the current standings, while only the now Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers have followed up in the NFC.
Kansas has run a beautifully balanced offence, outstandingly efficient in all aspects and able to potently turn this process into points.
Three AFC West teams were ranked in the top eight conference sides in 2016, but a notable absentee in 2017 is the Oakland Raiders. Ranked 5th out of 16 in 2016, they currently languish in 15th with a losing record and prop up the west behind the 5-1 Kansas City Chiefs.
Can Carr be the difference for Oakland?
There will be much to play for when the two teams face off in Oakland for week 7’s Thursday night football game. Oakland have handed their offence fully over to 2014 2nd round draft pick Derek Carr by giving him a lucrative five-year contract extension.
Carr’s development as an efficient and accurate passer has mirrored Oakland’s improvement as a team, going from a 3-13 team when he signed to 7-9 and subsequently a 12-4 playoff team in 2016 before injury ended his season and any meaningful chance for Oakland in the postseason.
Unlike his older brother, David, overall number pick by Houston in 2002, who often traded high completion rates for unadventurous, short passes, Derek regularly finds his receivers deep, particularly in the end zone.
A near 64% completion rate, seven yards per attempt, 5% of attempts yielding touchdowns and just 1% being intercepted in 2016 is a welcome passing return for Oakland following nearly a decade in the quarterback wilderness.
However, despite the obvious improvement by the Raiders under Carr and the legitimate injury excuse in the postseason, their underlying stats were slightly worrying if they were to be considered a genuine Super Bowl candidate in 2016.
Chiefs vs. Raiders betting: Can Oakland turn it around?
A league-high +16 turnover differential, shared with Thursday’s opponents Kansas City, invites regression, as does a record of 8 wins and just one loss in closely decided games.
As the hosts, Oakland would be the narrowest of one point favourites, but with concerns around Carr’s fitness and a short turnaround, the visitors are taken to win by around four points.
Furthermore, a +31 points differential was more typical of a 9-7 team, rather than their actual 12-4 record.
Overall they ran and passed the ball with slightly above average efficiency, turning these small advantages into much more on the scoreboard.
These figures have taken a downturn in 2017, both in efficiency and points gathering, despite the receiving threat remaining largely unchanged from 2016 and additions to the ground game with the acquisition of Marshawn Lynch.
Carr has also missed a game and a half with a separate injury compared to 2016.
Oakland in 2016 and so far in 2017 were vulnerable in defence, particularly through the air, but have largely prevented this weakness being turned into points conceded.
Will the Kansas City Chiefs continue to improve?
Kansas were the last of the unbeaten teams to fall when going down to Pittsburgh in a low scoring week 6 contest. They boast an overall number one pick under centre in Alex Smith, albeit another with questions about his ultimate legacy in the game.
Smith was handed a near-impossible task when drafted by San Francisco in 2005, as injuries and a regular turnover of offensive co-ordinators led to constant speculation about his position as the team’s quarterback.
His career is perhaps better judged post-2010 when he finally had a settled offensive environment and he took SF first to the postseason and then helped them to the Super Bowl, although by then he had again lost the starting role to Colin Kaepernick following a concussion and he was subsequently traded to Kansas.
Oakland have handed their offence fully over to 2014 2nd round draft pick Derek Carr by giving him a lucrative five-year contract extension.
A tendency to check down with short passes has proved ideal in Kansas’ preferred offence and four full seasons down the line, Smith has expanded his range of passes, incrementally increasing both his efficiency and completion rates.
Despite only gate crashing Oakland’s top spot in the 2016 AFC West on the final weekend, Kansas had better underlying stats compared to those of their rival. A legitimate 10-6 team based on points scored and allowed, they had also been less reliant upon winning close contests.
Kansas ran a balanced offence in 2016, slightly above par on the ground and when passing the football, but without being able to translate these efficiencies into points at similar rates to those achieved by Oakland. They boasted a more accomplished defence than did Oakland.
Chiefs vs. Raiders odds: What do the stats suggest?
The home game with Pittsburgh apart in 2017, when Smith struggled with completions, Kansas has run a beautifully balanced offence, outstandingly efficient in all aspects and able to potently turn this process into points.
Statistically, Kansas is a poorer defence than their 2016 version, particularly against the run. Although, as in 2016, they are a “bend, but don’t entirely break” defensive unit and are still superior to Oakland.
As the hosts, Oakland would be the narrowest of one point favourites, based on 2016 numbers. But with concerns around Carr’s fitness, (he was a late, gametime decision on Sunday when they went down at home to the LA Chargers) and a short turnaround, combined with Kansas’ hitherto excellent all round 2017 performances, the visitors are taken to win by around four points.