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NFL Betting: Chiefs vs. Raiders Thursday Night Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 11/20/2014 5:10:47 PM

The Kansas City Chiefs have steadily turned around their season. A team that had started its season 2-3 is now tied for the AFC West lead. The Chiefs face a divisional game on Thursday.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders – Thursday, November 20

The Kansas City Chiefs looked like they were headed for a very difficult season at the end of September. The Chiefs started their season 0-2. They lost at home to the Tennessee Titans, a team that has since become one of the worst in the AFC. The Chiefs lost in Denver against the Broncos and quickly fell behind Denver by two games in the AFC West. Kansas City had very little margin for error, and tough teams appeared on the schedule as well. When the Chiefs were 1-2, they had to play New England, San Francisco, and San Diego in consecutive weeks, and San Diego was a really good team in the first month of the season. It would have been very realistic to predict that the Chiefs would slide toward a 9-7 or 8-8 record.

Instead, they’re at 7-3 following a five-game winning streak and a stretch in which the team has won seven of eight games. The Chiefs’ defense has been absolutely outstanding during this period. Kansas City has given up more than 20 points only once in those eight games, and that was 22 points against San Francisco in a game the Chiefs almost won. The secret for the Chiefs has been the running of Jamaal Charles, one of the best backs in the NFL. Charles has rushed for 692 yards to this point in the season, which indicates that he’s easily going to clear 1,000 yards for the whole season. What’s more relevant and of value to Charles is that he’s rushing for 5.2 yards every carry, which will always be good enough to win in the NFL.

With Charles being that productive, the Chiefs are able to drain the clock and keep their defense rested. Kansas City’s defense has been really good, but the ability of the offense to control the ball has limited the number of plays the Chiefs’ opponents are able to run each game. This was especially true in a 23-20 win over the San Diego Chargers a month ago. Kansas City is making tough-guy plays, as shown by stopping the Seattle Seahawks on three separate fourth downs this past Sunday. The Chiefs needed all three of those stops, because they won by only four points, 24-20. The Chiefs don’t always dominate, but they’ve barely lost since September 21.

The Raiders are going to have a tough time going up against the Chiefs’ defense, which averages allowing only 202 passing yards and 124 rushing yards per game. Oakland scored only six points to begin with against San Diego this past Sunday, so the Raiders’ offense doesn’t really figure to be able to do much. Where Oakland might be able to steal this game is by shutting down Kansas City’s offense and being able to shorten the game in its own right. The problem, though, for Oakland is that it is dead last in the NFL in rushing. That’s why Kansas City is going to win this game comfortably.

Pick: Chiefs -7.5

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