Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NFL Predictions 2013 Week 15: Chiefs vs Raiders

Kansas City Chiefs vs Oakland Raiders: KC -4 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

It's not very often that a team with a 10-3 record gets undervalued in the point spread, but that's been the case with the Chiefs many times this season.

Last week the Chiefs were only -3 point favorites for this matchup in the LVH look-ahead line. Not much changed after the weekend when they were moved to -3.5.  Early money came in on KC almost immediately and we've seen a line move to -4 and -4.5.  Some square books are even putting it up as high as -5 in order to attract some Oakland money.

If you like KC, go ahead and take the -4 now before it moves. The true point spread for this game should be around -5 or -5.5.

A whopping 90% of tickets are currently on KC.

Bottom Line

The Raiders defense isn't as bad as they looked on paper coming into 2013, but they are still a below average group. The best thing they do is limit teams on the ground, but even there they are only average. KC doesn't do anything special on offense either, but as long as they have a healthy Jamaal Charles, their offense can move the ball and control the clock.

The other factor to consider when looking at KC is the peripheral stats. They lead the league in special teams efficiency, which in turn gives them the best average net starting field position in the NFL.  It's always easier to drive down the field or prevent points when you're starting every drive almost 10 yards better than your opponent. Aiding that is a league best turnover differential as well.  Bad teams usually suffer in these categories, and it's a big reason why KC have gone from one of the worst teams to one of the best in one season.

On the other side, Oakland's offense is also outmatched. Their QB situation is riddled with instability and there's nothing this unit does particularly well. They've had a really hard time sustaining drives this season and now they face a defense that excels at disrupting them.  It also doesn't help that Oakland take more offensive penalties than most teams in the league. Nothing stalls a drive more than false starts and holding calls.

The other bad news for Oakland is the potential return of Justin Houston. They might err on the side of caution and keep him out, but the last thing the Raiders need is another deadly pass rusher to worry about.

Sunday's game is going to clinch a playoff spot for KC, so they still have motivation to go full out. They should win in all three phases of the game, and even if one has a letdown, the other two can compensate.  I'll lay the points and ride KC for another week.

NFL Pick: KC -4.