If you are out of your survival pool, chances are you recall the first meeting between the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.
Even in a season in which underdogs have been fantastic, only one double-digit underdog in the NFL has won straight up. It was the Raiders on Oct. 11 at Arrowhead Stadium. They were 10.5-point underdogs and won 40-32.
It was an unexpected result, but not really a fluke. The Raiders outplayed the Chiefs. They had 490 yards to the Chiefs’ 413. The Raiders and Chiefs were even in turnovers, so it’s not like the Raiders were fortunate to win the turnover margin in a big way.
If anything, the Chiefs made the final score look better than it was. Kansas City scored in the final minutes and got the two-point conversion; they had trailed by 16 before that. The Raiders outplayed Kansas City in every way. It’s true.
There was another way in which that outcome can’t be considered a fluke: The Raiders might be much better than anyone is giving them credit for right now.
If you ask someone to pick the Super Bowl matchup this season, plenty of people would pick the Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints. The Raiders have beat them both. Las Vegas is 6-3. The Raiders are also 6-3 against the spread.
Advanced stats don’t love the Raiders because their defense isn’t great. Las Vegas is 14th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, one spot below the 4-5 Minnesota Vikings. But the Raiders have played a tough schedule and are right in the wild-card mix. The Raiders have stockpiled a lot of young talent and it’s paying off.
Now comes the rematch against the Chiefs. It’s a fun “Sunday Night Football” matchup against the NFL’s marquee team. The Chiefs have been just fine other than the Raiders game. That’s their only loss this season. The Chiefs are 7-point favorites on Sunday night, on the road against a team that already beat them this season. I’ll take the Raiders and the points. They are a good team and can at least keep it close.
Maybe after Sunday night, more people will take note of the Raiders’ strong season.
Here are the picks for Week 11 of the NFL season, with the point spreads from BetMGM:
Cardinals (+3) over Seahawks
Kyler Murray is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league and the Seahawks can’t cover anyone. It’s hard to bet against Russell Wilson in any game. But it’s becoming hard to bet against Murray, too.
Browns (-3.5) over Eagles
Ask yourself a simple question: What have the Eagles done through 10 weeks of this season to earn any trust of bettors? This line feels light.
Falcons (+5) over Saints
I need to see Jameis Winston in the Saints offense before I can figure out what to do with them. As great as Sean Payton is as a coach, I doubt that he can eliminate the reckless turnovers from Winston’s game.
Texans (+2.5) over Patriots
I wonder if this line is an overreaction to one Patriots win, which happened in a crazy rainstorm. They looked great against the Ravens. The week before that, they were a 2-5 team that needed a big fourth-quarter comeback to beat the awful Jets. I want to see the Patriots do it again.
Jaguars (+9.5) over Steelers
Pittsburgh has a way of playing awful games on the road against bad competition. It happened earlier this season against the Cowboys. The Jaguars are coming off a spirited upset bid against the Packers that fell short, but at least they showed they’re still playing hard.
Washington (-2) over Bengals
The Bengals have been very good against the spread this season. That gives me pause when I pick Washington. But I do think Washington’s pass rush can give the Bengals’ offensive line some problems, and Alex Smith has shown he’s still a capable quarterback. This could end up being a pretty good game.
Titans (+6.5) over Ravens
Two teams coming off disappointing weeks. There is some overreaction to the Ravens’ struggles. To hear the talk about the Ravens this week, they’re on the verge of collapse. It’s still a very good football team, just not the great one we saw in 2019. Still, I haven’t given up on the Titans either and think we’ll get a great game.
Dolphins (-3.5) over Broncos
This line is weird. The Broncos aren’t a good football team. Drew Lock is not playing well, and now he’s dealing with a rib injury. The Dolphins have won five in a row, they’re well coached, play very good on defense and Tua Tagovailoa can make plays for the offense. This pick seems too easy.
Chargers (-8.5) over Jets
I don’t think the Jets are decent just because they gave the Patriots a game. They’re still the worst team in football, and the Chargers are perhaps the best 2-7 team you’ll ever see. The Chargers will be happy to play a team they can absolutely handle.
Colts (-2) over Packers
I was very impressed with how the Colts looked in that win over the Titans last week. They have the defense and the coaching to be a contender in the AFC. If the offense can come along — and maybe last week’s breakout games from Nyheim Hines and Michael Pittman Jr. can lead to that — the Colts can be a very good team in the second half.
Vikings (-7) over Cowboys
The Vikings are feeling pretty good, and for good reason. They’re a hot team and have been paying off for bettors. The Cowboys are off a bye, but does that even really matter?
Buccaneers (-3.5) over Rams
Everyone jumped off the Bucs bandwagon after a high-profile flop against the Saints. The Buccaneers are still a very good team that either doesn’t match up well against the Saints or had one awful night on a big stage. Tampa Bay is still capable of winning a Super Bowl, as long as they don’t face the Saints again.
Off the board: Lions-Panthers
There is some question about the health of Matthew Stafford and Christian McCaffrey. I’ll be on the Panthers here; I trust Matt Rhule over Matt Patricia.
Last week: 7-7
Season to date: 72-71-3
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