Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET
The legendary Jack Parkman once said, “New haircut... same dead arm.”
In the case of the Raiders, it could be said: “New city, same shitty defense.”
At least that’s what the early returns are a quarter of the way through their first season in the franchise’s new Vegas residency. So far, they’re being hit up for a whopping 30-plus points on average — though, to be fair, eight other teams are laughably reaching this same “milestone.”
Still, this is a defense that’s existed as a weak link in recent years. When Jon Gruden first took over at the helm (for the second time) in 2018, the Raiders proceeded to finish dead last by allowing 29.2 points per game. Last season, that number shrunk to 26.2, but they were still saddled in the bottom third of the league. Sacks and takeaways elude them as well.
And now they have a date with Patrick Mahomes, who is not only arguably the most dangerous and consistent QB in all of football, he’s been one of their main tormentors during this same stretch, too. Kansas City has averaged nearly a whopping 36 points in Mahomes’ four lifetime meetings with the Raiders, which sure is a nice floor when grabbing a total this high.
But this doesn’t even look like a group that’s about to settle on a floor-like amount. Instead, it’s a juggernaut about to approach its next foe.
Mahomes continues to shine on a weekly basis, as evident in his 114.1 passer rating, 283.5 yards per game and 11-0 TD/INT ratio, and in turn, it brings out the best in his talented supporting cast. Clearly, this is a unit that gels as well as any other.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Chiefs are operators of the NFL’s second-lowest scoring defense (!) at 17.5 points per, so we also need to make sure there’s enough on the other end of the final score.
Derek Carr and Co. have certainly done their part up to this point; if not for the Raiders offense, in fact, they’d probably be sitting at 0-4 instead of 2-2 right now.
This was a “dream” season coming in for Carr, who said he always wanted to remain with the organization and take the first snaps in Las Vegas. He’s done that, and a whole lot more, pacing Vegas with career-best marks in passer rating (113.6), completion percentage (73.6 percent) and yards per game (273.8). And, like Mahomes, he hasn’t thrown a single pick.
Unlike his counterpart, however, Carr does not possess a desirable track record when dealing with this opponent. Even so, with this being the best version to date we’ve seen of the Fresno State product, I think he’s capable of keeping it going no matter the challenger. Upgraded offense has simply been a defining theme of 2020.
Carr figures to also benefit from the return of rookie wideout Henry Ruggs III, who missed the last two games (and a lot of Week 2) with a hamstring ailment. The first-round pick blossomed in the opener.
As important as anything, the Raiders boast something that can pick apart K.C.’s biggest weakness defensively: a quality rush attack. The Chiefs are giving up the fifth-most yards on the ground (161) each week and standout running back Josh Jacobs makes it a matchup to watch.
I’m buying a half-point, which normally isn’t recommended for an over/under, but if you know how typically on target I am, it makes sense, and I want to be protected in the event of a 31-23/34-20/37-17 final. The choice is yours.
The Bet: OVER 54 (-120)
The Record: 2-2, -0.2 unit
Last Week: Broncos-Jets Under 41 (loss)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit