AFC West Preview: Kansas City at Las Vegas

AFC West Preview: Kansas City at Las Vegas

Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders

Line: Kansas City -7.5

Total: 52.5

Where: Allegiant Stadium, Paradise, Nevada

When: Saturday, 1/7 at 4:30 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

The entire league is in somewhat of a wait-and-see mode following Damar Hamlin’s terrifying collapse on the field that left him in critical condition on Monday night.

Hamlin’s health is the only thing that actually matters with this situation (looking at you, Skip Bayless), but it will play a role of some sort in the conclusion of the regular season. Kansas City, Buffalo and Cincinnati are all still alive for the top seed in the AFC, with the Chiefs sitting one win ahead of the Bills as the league awaits a final decision on the conclusion of Monday’s game (at the time of writing).

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed both teams on Tuesday that the game will not be resumed this week, making no changes to the current Week 18 schedule. Oddsmakers have taken the prop market for the AFC’s No. 1 seed off the board as a result.

Regardless, Kansas City will still be alive for the top seed in the conference heading into Saturday afternoon’s game against Las Vegas. The Chiefs opened as 6.5-point favorites, then they have moved up to -8.5 before dropping to 7.5 by early Tuesday night. There has been some slight movement on the total, bumping up to 52.5 points after opening at 50.5.

Kansas City suffered an upset loss at Indianapolis in Week 3, but its only losses since then have come against the Bills and Bengals. The Chiefs have bounced back from their loss to Cincinnati with four straight wins, including a 27-24 win against Denver on Sunday. They fell to 1-4 against the spread during their last five games, though, coming nowhere close to covering the 12.5-point spread.

“When you win and you don’t feel like you played your best ball, that’s a really good thing,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “We have to find a way to, for four quarters, play our best football when we get to the playoffs. And I feel like we haven’t done that.”

Mahomes has taken advantage of Jalen Hurts’ injury in the MVP race, moving to -750 to win the award at DraftKings over the past two weeks. Mahomes has thrown for 552 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in those two games, getting closer to the second MVP of his career.

He captains an offense that leads the NFL in yards per game (417.7). Mahomes has completed 67.0% of his passes for 5,048 yards, 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His top target has been tight end Travis Kelce, who has 104 receptions for 1,300 yards and 12 scores. Running back Isiah Pacheco leads the rushing attack with 766 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per attempt.

The Chiefs are facing a Raiders defense that is No. 26, giving up 366.7 yards per game. Las Vegas has officially been eliminated from playoff contention, dropping three of its last four games.

The Raiders took San Francisco to overtime as 10-point underdogs last week though, easily covering the spread. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham made his first start after veteran Derek Carr was benched by head coach Josh McDaniels. Stidham threw for 365 yards, joining Mahomes as the only two quarterbacks to throw three touchdowns against the league’s top defense this season.

He was also able to scramble seven times for 34 yards, along with distributing the ball to six receivers who each had at least three catches. Star wide receiver Davante Adams hauled in seven receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns, even after vocally sticking up for Carr when his former college teammate was benched.

Kansas City has won six straight divisional games, but it is 0-6 ATS during that streak—the Chiefs have gone ‘over’ the total in 10 of their last 12 road games. The Raiders are 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against AFC West opponents.

The pick: Las Vegas +8 (BetRivers)

Las Vegas has a favorable offense to step into as a backup quarterback. The Raiders have one of the league’s best running backs in Josh Jacobs, along with one of the top wideouts in Adams. Stidham put together one of the best performances that any quarterback has had against San Francisco this season, giving him plenty of confidence heading into this game. Kansas City’s defense is nothing to write home about, and the Chiefs have continuously struggled to cover this type of spread. They are going on the road in a weird scheduling situation with the No. 1 seed in limbo, which might make it difficult for them to be fully focused on beating a non-playoff team.

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