Sunday Night Football Betting Preview: Will the Chiefs Avenge Their Earlier Loss to the Raiders?
For a team that already went into Arrowhead Stadium back in Week 5 and handed this Kansas City Chiefs squad their lone loss of the year, the betting public isn't giving the Las Vegas Raiders a whole lot of respect.
The two squads face off this week on Sunday Night Football, where the 6-3 Raiders have one last chance to make this divisional race a surprisingly tight battle, while the 8-1 Chiefs could cruise to the AFC West crown with a victory. If we get anywhere close to the 72 total points scored in the first matchup, we should be in for a treat to cap off the Week 11 Sunday slate.
The line opened with the Chiefs favored by 5.5 points, but bettors have swung that all the way to KC -8.0 on FanDuel Sportsbook. With 87% of the bets and 89% of the money siding with the Chiefs -- per our oddsFire betting tool -- that doesn't look likely to reverse itself.
The moneyline has been steadier, opening at -360 and currently sitting at -370 for a Chiefs outright win. The +295 for the Raiders hasn't been enough to attract the big bettors, as 68% of the bets and 84% of the money is falling on the Chiefs -- even with those unexciting odds.
The total opened at 57 and has been bet down a hair to 56.5, and bettors have responded by taking the over. A whopping 85% of the bets and 87% of the money took note of the last matchup -- when the scoring went into the 70s -- and are eying a shootout in this rematch.
Is there any reason to bet against Patrick Mahomes lighting up this Raiders defense in an important divisional game? Is this Raiders team that has knocked off the New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, and these Chiefs being slept on as a legit contender? Let's check out our projections for some insights.
Passing Game Preview
When the Chiefs have the ball, it is quite clearly the Patrick Mahomes show. The Chiefs enter the week with the best passing game in the league, producing 0.36 Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, with only one other NFL offense (the Green Bay Packers) topping 0.30 Passing NEP per drop back. Mahomes will face off against a Raiders defense with the 22nd-best pass defense by our numbers. Vegas is allowing 0.22 Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play through 10 weeks.
On the injury front for KC, offensive tackle Mitchell Swartz will miss the game, while wide receiver Sammy Watkins looks on the wrong side of questionable as he battles hamstring and calf injuries. For the Raiders, there are massive concerns as 10 defensive players have landed on the COVID-19 list. Linebacker Cory Littleton and defensive end Clelin Ferrell were the only Raiders to test positive, but five other defensive lineman and three players in the secondary, including Johnathan Abram and Lamarcus Joyner, have landed on the list and will need to pass tests up until kickoff to be cleared. We've seen teams have similar issues this year and get players cleared in time for kickoff, but this is certainly a massive issue and explains the line moving from KC -5.5 to -8.
This Chiefs' passing game has been at its best when taking shots downfield, and Mecole Hardman has been their most efficient option, posting 1.11 Reception NEP per target on 33 opportunities. Tyreek Hill has produced a similarly impressive 0.95 Reception NEP per target on 72 targets this year, second most on the team. Hill was bottled up last time against the Raiders, catching 3 of 6 targets for 78 yards through the air, though he did chip in a rushing score.
Most of the work went to tight end Travis Kelce, who ripped Las Vegas for 108 yards on 8 receptions and scored a touchdown. Kelce's 0.87 Reception NEP per target on 79 targets ranks second among all tight ends with 40 or more targets, with only the injured George Kittle surpassing him. Kelce's combination of efficiency and volume puts him head and shoulders above the rest of the tight end competition, and he is truly one of a kind this year with Kittle currently sidelined.
When the Raiders are throwing it, the league's fifth-ranked passing offense (0.24 Adjusted Passing NEP per drop back) will face off against the fifth-ranked passing defense (0.02 Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per drop back) in an intriguing battle. Despite almost always playing with a lead, the Chiefs' pass defense has shut down opposing passing games. Their first matchup with the Raiders was one of the few exceptions, as Derek Carr threw for 357 yards, one of two times all year an opposing offense has topped 300 passing yards against the Chiefs. Offensive tackle Trent Brown finds himself on the COVID list for the Raiders, while defensive lineman Taco Charlton will miss the week after undergoing surgery on his fractured leg.
While the Chiefs' passing game excels at a high volume, the Raiders rely much more on efficiency. Las Vegas is the fifth-most run heavy team in the league with a 1.05 pass-to-rush ratio, with Derek Carr taking advantage of his shots downfield when given the opportunity. Nelson Agholor has shockingly been reborn as a deep threat and comes into this week with a ridiculous 1.34 Reception NEP per target, albeit on just 29 targets.
Even slot-option Hunter Renfrow has gotten involved with the deep ball at times, and his 0.96 Reception NEP per target is among the best on the team while ranking second on the Raiders with 38 targets. Tight end Darren Waller is the volume option, soaking up 77 targets, twice as many as the second-most targeted Raider. But his 0.47 Reception NEP per target is a far cry from Kelce's mark of 0.87, making him more of a safety valve than dynamic playmaker. With Waller and the running backs amassing a high number of low efficiency targets, the Raiders would benefit by continuing to push the ball to their wide receivers, including rookie Henry Ruggs.
Rushing Game Preview
Kansas City enters Week 11 with the 22nd-ranked rushing offense (0.03 Adjusted Rushing NEP per carry), which would be a concern if they didn't have Mahomes as their quarterback. But they do have Mahomes, and the Chiefs have fully embraced the passing game with a 1.5 pass-to-rush ratio. Even that doesn't do their recent trend justice, as the past two weeks they have gone full air-raid, passing a combined 92 times compared to 31 total rushes.
The Chiefs will be facing off against a potentially COVID-decimated Raiders defense that ranks as the NFL's fourth-worst run defense, allowing 0.14 Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per carry on the year.
If the Chiefs do decide to run, Mahomes actually leads the way with 0.43 Rushing NEP per carry on 31 attempts, further boosting their otherwise lackluster rushing numbers. Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been the volume back with 126 carries, though the results have been middling with 0.02 Rushing NEP per carry. The Chiefs have been better off targeting him in the passing game, as his 0.34 Reception NEP per targets looks much better.
If you have Le'Veon Bell stashed on your fantasy football bench, look away now. Bell has produced -0.31 Rushing NEP per carry on 35 rushes this year and has been targeted just seven times in the passing game. We still could see a bounce-back as he learns this Chiefs offense, especially coming out of the bye, but at the moment, Darrel Williams looks like the superior backup.
We know the Raiders like to run the ball, and this matchup should encourage them to follow that game plan, as the Raiders' ninth-ranked rushing offense (0.11 Adjusted Rushing NEP per carry) squares off against the second-worst run defense in the NFL (0.17 Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per carry). The Chiefs' defense has allowed more than 100 yards rushing to all but two teams this year, and the Raiders racked up 144 rushing yards on them in their Week 5 win.
Surprisingly, Josh Jacobs hasn't provided most of the rushing value in his workhorse role, as he is producing 0.00 Rushing NEP per carry on a whopping 182 attempts. But as he shoulders the brunt of the work, the backups are springing big plays to boost the team's efficiency. Devontae Booker has been surprisingly effective, chipping in 0.29 Rushing NEP per carry on 49 rushes, and he has continually broken off chunk plays while spelling Jacobs. Even Carr has contributed, rushing 22 times and adding 0.42 Rushing NEP per carry.
Jalen Richard looks to be truly questionable after not practicing all week with a chest injury, so Jacobs and Booker should get plenty of opportunities to take advantage of this struggling Chiefs run defense.
Of the 10 most comparable games to this matchup, the favorite has won 8 of 10 times, yet is just 4-5-1 against the spread, suggesting this game could be a bit closer than anticipated. The trend on the point total is the strongest, however, as 9 of 10 matchups have hit the under. That's one of the stronger trends that I've seen this year, though obviously a depleted Raiders defense would cause some hesitation on betting the under.
Game Projections and Props
Our algorithm gives the Chiefs a 62.4% chance of winning outright, much lower than the moneyline would indicate. Therefore, we give the Raiders at +295 a projected return on investment (ROI) of 49%. Obviously betting the Raiders to win is scary considering the COVID issues on their defense, but this is a team that just beat the Chiefs back in Week 5, so the odds feel worthwhile. We also like the Raiders at +8.0, giving their side of the spread a 26% projected ROI. Finally, the under (56.5) is the preferred option on the point total, with a 18% projected ROI.
Prop betting is where the real fun begins, however, and there are plenty of options for same-game parlays on FanDuel Sportsbook.
Travis Kelce feels undervalued at -120 to score a touchdown, as we project him with a 65% chance of scoring a touchdown, and he has racked up six touchdowns in nine games this year. But those odds aren't much fun, so let's boost them a bit by parlaying a Kelce touchdown with the over on his receiving yardage (74.5). Kelce has topped that number in 5 of 9 weeks on the year, and as the Chiefs have gone more pass-happy over the last two weeks, Kelce has topped 100 yards with 12 targets in each game.
If you want to go all out on a Raiders win, why settle on just the moneyline? With an advantageous matchup against a struggling Chiefs run defense, we can combine Vegas +295 with Josh Jacobs to score a touchdown (-120) along with the over on his rushing yards (65.5) to get a really nice correlation longshot at +559. You could also just parlay the touchdown and the yardage for a +168 payday if you think Mahomes will pull it out in the end.