KANSAS CITY, Mo. — All the key indicators suggest that the Raiders are wasting their time traveling to Kansas City for Sunday’s crucial AFC West matchup.
After the Jets buried the Raiders 34-3 last week, oddsmakers did not hesitate to make the Chiefs a 10-point favorite.
NFL historians reminded us that Chiefs coach Andy Reid is virtually unbeatable after his team’s bye week. He’s 17-3 with the Eagles and Chiefs in that situation.
Even former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio could not resist piling on, tweeting that Derek Carr has not played well in cold weather. In the 10 games Carr has quarterbacked with the temperature below 50 degrees, the Raiders are 2-8. The temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the mid-30s with gusty winds, perhaps reaching 30 mph.
Recent optics are not much prettier.
On Sept. 15 at Oakland, Patrick Mahomes unleashed a four-touchdown, 273-yard, second-quarter tsunami that washed away a 10-point deficit and made the Chiefs 3-0 against the Raiders since the return of coach Jon Gruden.
This game presents the biggest challenge for Gruden and his staff since he left the broadcasting booth. His team is young, and its confidence was badly shaken in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
His biggest problem rests with an injury-riddled secondary that put up no resistance against Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, just as it did not in that second quarter against Mahomes. A return by veteran Lamarcus Joyner would help, especially from a leadership standpoint. Hamstring injuries are tricky, but Joyner practiced this week in a limited role.
Yet despite all the negatives, I am riding with the Raiders plus 10 and including them in my teasers at plus 17. The Chiefs’ inept defense is the reason. The Chiefs have lost three games at Kansas City, and Houston and Green Bay each scored against them.
And again we come back to Gruden. He calls the plays, and the Raiders need time-consuming drives that keep Carr’s hands busy on the field and Mahomes shivering on the sideline.
Cash some tickets this weekend, because that’s what it’s all about.
Brent Musburger’s betting column appears Saturday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He is host of “My Guys in the Desert” weekdays from 2 to 4 p.m. on VSiN.com, SiriusXM 204 and 920 AM The Game.