Kansas City @ Oakland: Hosts could finally enjoy a Raiding party

Raiding party? Derek Carr must improve at QB
Raiding party? Derek Carr must improve at QB

Romilly Evans looks at this divisional duel in the AFC West and reckons the Raiders can delay, even halt the Chiefs' play-off momentum...

"Andy Reid’s attack plan could give Carr some rope. Let’s just hope he doesn’t hang his team with it."

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
Start-time: Friday, 01:30
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2
 

The search to find the smallest midget in the NFL is, like a Hobbit approaching Mount Doom, reaching the latter stages of its quest. And while the likes of Tampa Bay and Jacksonville have done their best to live down to expectations, the Oakland Raiders are favourites to be crowned Mayor of Munchkinland, sporting the only winless record in the league at 0-10.

The Emerald City of victory is a distant dream, the Kansas City Chiefs (riding a five-game winning streak) their oncoming reality. Indeed, the Raiders appear bang on track for repeating the lowlights of Detroit's infamous 0-16 campaign in 2008 - and what's worse they're already at 0-15 if you go back to last season. This week actually marks the anniversary of their last win at Houston.

After all, with due respect to fans of the Gregorian calendar, whoever arbitrarily said solar cycles had to begin in January? Oakland must look at this late primetime match-up as the perfect opportunity to slam the door shut on a year of underachievement and make some new resolutions.

Encouragingly, the Raiders have not been dropping their heads in an economy-sized vat of self-pity. In fact, their performances have been improving in commitment and promise with every passing week. They took an early lead and pushed Denver (at that time Super Bowl jollies) during the first half a fortnight back. And then hardened their resolve still further against another AFC West opponent, San Diego, by matching the Bolts score for score, albeit after they'd given up a feckless first-minute touchdown.

Many will point to the Chargers' QB Philip Rivers being below par (nursing knocks to his ribs and legs). Yet at the end of the day, Oakland's D have just stepped up against one of the more potent offenses in the league. Hell, they even picked Peyton Manning twice, so they must be doing something right. Something wrong has typically been happening on offense where rookie Derek Carr has struggled to pick up the pace from collegiate football - spare a thought for the much-maligned Matt Schaub, now an expensive and inefficient benchwarmer.

Their organisation is clearly planning for the future with Carr, though, and he is improving for the patience extended his way.  Against San Diego, the 23-year-old's completion rate was 47% for 172 yards; versus San Diego it was 64% for 192. Sure, they only crossed the 50-yard line twice on Sunday, but he can definitely move it when opponents give him room. 

Although the Chiefs' staunch defense is not known for affording such room to rookies, Andy Reid's attack plan could give Carr some rope. Let's just hope he doesn't hang his team with it. Kansas will likely look to munch the clock on offense via Jamaal Charles, their one-man highlight reel, with quarterback Alex Smith still not totally trusted as evidenced by completing only 11 of 16 for 108 yards at the weekend.

This strategy gives the Raiders a great chance of getting inside some generous handicaps. Carr has already shown that he can up production in the latter stages when rival Ds invariably open up for his chasing offense; Oakland's rushers can't possibly be as poor as they appear (cue Latavius Murray); while Seb Janikowski can kick long field goals. So with their defense kindling a chemistry (likeable linebacker Khali Mack even secured his first career sack on Rivers), let's take a flyer that the Raiders can stop the rot.

At least the Chiefs aren't in Kansas anymore. Perhaps these Silver and Black munchkins can stand tall.

Recommended Bets
Back Oakland Raiders (+7.5) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 1.855/6 or better
Back Oakland Raiders (+3.5) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 3.02/1 or better
Back Oakland Raiders (+3.5) to win on the First Half Points Spread @ 1.9110/11 or better
Back Oakland Raiders to score Over 17.5 Points @ 1.9110/11 or better
Back L. Murray to score First / Anytime Touchdown @ 16.015/1 or better

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles