THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – KANSAS CITY at OAKLAND
This AFC West clash should be a blockbuster!
Less than a week ago, KC were unbeaten and beginning to become everyone’s newest Super Bowl pick before Pittsburgh rolled into town and upstaged the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
In saying that, many also liked what Oakland had to offer entering the season. A genuine franchise quarterback, dynamic receivers, one of the great modern day running backs and some definite playmakers on defence. The Raiders were primed to push anyone who dared set foot on their soil.
2017 has been an indifferent beginning for Oakland. They went into Tennessee and beat up a talented Titans squad before putting 45 on the Jets, who have since proven to be a better team than we anticipated.
From there things went pear-shaped with a terrible loss on the east coast against Washington before a back injury sidelined Carr and crippled the team.
Amari Cooper was a top draft choice who has shown glimpses of the talent he showed at Alabama but he has had consistent issues with dropping the football.
Michael Crabtree has been a blessing since arriving in the Bay Area and his season has been excellent, even after missing a week with a rib injury.
The Raiders are 27th for passing yards and 24th for rushing yards so simply put – the offence needs to step up and it should, considering the talent on that side of the ball.
The visiting Chiefs never put a foot wrong before last week’s drop to the Steelers.
Many wanted to jump straight on Alex Smith and proclaim him to be a pretender instead of the MVP contender he has become in the early part of the season.
Truth be told, Smith gets too much praise when his team wins and too much blame when his team loses – like all QB’s.
Kareem Hunt leads the fourth best rushing attack in the NFL which has resulted in 29.5 points per contest, good for second in the competition. Coach Andy Reid draws up entertaining and effective plays, deploying all of his offensive weapons.
Travis Kelce is the game’s most consistent tight end (sorry, Gronk but you’re too oft-injured) whilst Tyreek Hill is enigmatic but devastating in the return game and as a deep threat wideout.
The defence will cause Oakland headaches as well. Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson, Dee Ford and Chris Jones lead a dominant defensive line whilst Marcus Peters is a genuine lockdown cornerback.
MATCH-UPS WORTH WATCHING:
Marcus Peters v Cooper / Crabtree
Peters shadows the #1 WR. On reputation, Cooper is considered the Raiders number one man but Crabtree has consistently outperformed Coop and is a much greater red zone threat. For fantasy football players, you’ll be praying Peters stands opposite the other man whilst your fantasy wideout gets a great match-up against someone like Terrance Mitchell.
Justin Houston v Derek Carr
Houston leads a damaging defensive line for KC. At his best, Carr has been labelled an MVP candidate but he is clearly still battling a back injury as well as some inconsistent play from the entire offence.
Houston is a game-wrecker and should he get to Carr early and often, things will be bleak for the Raiders faithful.
Travis Kelce & Kareem Hunt v Khalil Mack & Bruce Irvin
Kelce is a brilliant every down tight end. He can put his hand in the ground and block defensive ends or run like a wideout and catch almost anything thrown his way.
Hunt has been the surprise packet of the season, averaging 150 scrimmage yards and leading the league in rushing.
Mack is destined to get to the QB but protecting the edge against a mobile Smith and an elusive Hunt will be a big part of his role. Irvin has been there and done that when with the Seahawks and his best will be needed to keep Hunt, Kelce and to a lesser extent Smith quieted.
Tip: KC 27 – OAK 23
KC 1-13 points ($2.22)
Derek Carr +228.5 pass yards ($1.87)
Alex Smith +18.5 rush yards ($1.87)