Raiders Preview: Matchup With The Vulnerable Chiefs Presents Ultimate Vibes Test
Maxx Crosby, Raiders
Nov 26, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (98) celebrates after sacking Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) during the third quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll be honest: Kansas City Chiefs week is rarely a week I look forward to in the Patrick Mahomes era. Since Mahomes became the full-time starter in 2018, the Chiefs have beaten the Las Vegas Raiders 10 times in 11 meetings — with seven of those wins coming by more than two scores.

So, yeah.

And yet…this one feels different.

The Chiefs come into this one having lost two of their last three games, with the one win coming in uninspiring fashion against the New England Patriots. Yes, they still have Patrick Mahomes — but the surrounding pieces seem as harmless as they have been in a long, long time.

On the Raiders side of things, the results have been similar — but the vibes are different. Yes, the Raiders have lost three of their last four, but they’re coming off one of the most encouraging wins they’ve had in years, a game in which they scored 63 points (a franchise record) against the Chargers. Not only that, it feels like they have something to really play for: an interim coach that they love and believe in.

In a weird way, the Christmas Day matchup is a test of the power of vibes.

From a talent perspective, the Chiefs are better. From a coaching perspective, the Chiefs are better. From a historical perspective, the Chiefs are better. But from a vibes perspective? The edge goes to Las Vegas, and on Christmas morning we’re going to find out just how much that matters.

On to the picks…

Last Week: 2-4, -2.1u; Season: 35-37-2, -1.13u

Before we get to this week’s picks, let’s point out the elephant in the room: last week was a brutal one for our picks. The Chargers team total was a sad, sad beat given the garbage time cover — and even the Ekeler over carries prop felt like it would have gone differently if not for the absolute tank job presented by the Chargers as a whole. But alas, upwards and onwards.

Travis Kelce, Chiefs
Dec 25, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) dives for the sideline against Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs (39) during the first half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Kelce UNDER 5.5 receptions (+110)

The narrative about Kelce’s struggles is well documented (and no, this isn’t a Taylor Swift indictment from this website), but he did go for six catches and 91 yards last time these two teams met. That said, given the state of the Chiefs receiving corps it would be a crime to allow Kelce to beat you — and with the way Robert Spillane has performed in coverage — I’m taking the under here. I looked at receiving yards too, but like the value with the plus money under on catches.

Isaiah Pacheco, Chiefs
Oct 29, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco (10) runs the ball as Denver Broncos safety P.J. Locke (6) defends in the second quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Pacheco UNDER 15.5 carries (-125)

This will be Pacheco’s first game since December 3rd and he has averaged 15 carries a game in his previous six contests. Given that I think this game is highly competitive and that it’s his first game back, I think he ends up with 13-14 carries, cashing our under.

Aidan O'Connell, Raiders
Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O’Connell (4) is greeted by fans during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Aidan O’Connell UNDER 210.5 passing yards (-110)

We don’t have any Josh Jacobs props to bet yet, but I’m expecting him to play — and play a lot — on Monday. That, combined with the Chiefs boasting one of the five best pass defenses (in terms of yards per game), makes me think O’Connell isn’t going to find anywhere near the same amount of success that he found last Thursday. I think he’ll be fine, but give me the under here.

Josh Jacobs, Raiders
Nov 5, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (8) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Giants during the second quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Jacobs TO SCORE A TOUCHDOWN (+160)

We had a couple of Michael Mayer props in this slot before the news came down on Saturday that he would miss the game due to a toe injury, so we’re going to pivot to one of the only Jacobs props on the board. I think Jacobs is the key to this game for the Raiders, and I think he’s hungry and ready to eat on Christmas after missing a game. Jacobs, pay dirt, book it.

Antonio Pierce, Raiders
Nov 26, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce leaves the field after the Chiefs defeated the Raiders 31-17 at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders +10.5 (-110)

Give me the hook on this one and I’m taking the Raiders all day, every day. I genuinely think this game is going to be really competitive, and I honestly would think about dabbling on the money line (+430) if you wanted to get really frisky. The Raiders jumped out to a big lead last time these two teams met, and I think that with how things have gone for both groups since that one it’s not crazy to think this one will be close.