Oakland (10-2) at Kansas City (9-3)
When: Thursday, December 8th 2016
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Time: 8:25 ET | TV: NBC
The Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs have little time to prepare for a huge matchup in the AFC West on Thursday Night Football. Quarterback Derrick Carr guided the Raiders to a comeback victory last week over the Buffalo Bills to stay a game ahead of the Chiefs in the division standings and tied with New England for the top spot in the conference. Carr has thrown seven touchdown passes over his last three games and 12 during the Raiders current six-game winning streak. Carr was off his game a bit in Week 6 when he threw for 225 yards in a 26-10 loss to Kansas City. Latavius Murray, who has three touchdowns in his last four meetings against Kansas City, scored twice last week to increase his rushing touchdown total to 11 – good enough for a tie for third in the league. Wide receiver Amari Cooper caught 10 passes for 129 yards in the first meeting with the Chiefs, but was limited to just two catches on Sunday versus the Bills. While Carr is being mentioned in NFL MVP discussion, defensive end Khalil Mack is in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. Mack has recorded at least one of his team-leading 10 sacks in each of the last seven games, while also recording four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception in that span.
Kansas City has won seven of their last eight games – a streak that started with a win over the Raiders in Week 6. Spencer Ware gained a career-high 131 yards and a touchdown in that matchup and will look to do the same on Thursday against the 29th-ranked Raiders’ run defense that is allowing 124.8 yards per game. Ware also scored last week in the 29-28 victory over Atlanta in which the Chiefs scored the winning points with an interception returned for two points after the Falcons went for two late. Alex Smith, who has thrown 18 touchdowns against three interceptions in his last nine starts versus the Raiders, is expected to get back his top target Jeremy Maclin on Thursday. Maclin was a full participant in practice on Tuesday and is in line to end a four-game absence due to a groin injury. Tight end Travis Kelce had his third straight 100-plus-yard performance after hauling in eight receptions for 140 yards versus the Falcons, but was limited to three catches for 32 yards in the Week 6 win over Oakland. Kansas City is ranked 29th in total defesne, but their +14 turnover differential is tops in the NFL.
This should be a terrific game, but the home teams have a big advantage in these Thursday night contests. I think the Chiefs running game will wear down Oakland and keep Carr and company off the field. I’ll lay the points in this one.
Pick: Chiefs -3