Free NFL Pick: Oakland at Kansas City 01-02-2011

January 2, 2011

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Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday January 2nd, 2011 1:00 PM EST

Line: Kansas City -4

Overview:

Kansas City clinched the division already this season, posting double digit wins after taking out Tennessee. They are a perfect 7-0 this season and have already locked up home field advantage for their first post season game. It is unclear how the Chiefs will handle resting their personnel, as they have little to gain, other than a higher seeding.

The Oakland Raiders are a scary team to face. The last time the Chiefs faced the Raiders, the Chiefs fell short, losing to an overtime field goal. That was in Oakland, and the Raiders have lost four of their last six, but they have the potential to come out and put it together against anyone anywhere. Just ask the Chargers, who were victimized by the Raiders at Qualcom just a few weeks ago.

Keys to the Game:

  • How will the Chiefs manage Matt Cassel? Last week the Chiefs did not use him sparingly, as they did one week after he had an emergency appendectomy. He threw for over 300 yards, had three touchdowns, a 70.6% completion rate, and a 128.8 QB rating on 34 attempts last week against Tennessee. The run game may be the machine in Kansas City, but Cassel is certainly the button you push to get it started. If the Chiefs decide rest is more beneficial than reps, the Chiefs might not cover.
  • Jason Campbell is playing for his job. Fans have conflicting opinions of Campbell, but with how explosive Darren McFadden is coming out of the back field, the passing game should be playing lights out. He could use another weapon, sure, but the Raiders have elite speed at wide receiver and Campbell doesn’t have the tools to completely take advantage. A slip up here and Al Davis will have more to wonder about when the Raiders head into the offseason.

Key Matchup:

Jamaal Charles Vs. Darren McFadden

  • Jamaal Charles is 56 yards behind Arian Foster in the race for the rushing title. Think it doesn’t matter to him? Think again. The Chiefs haven’t come out and said they were going to rest anyone. Last week, the pulled Cassel and Charles against Tennessee, only to put them in on the following drive because they saw the momentum swing in their absence. Chrarles faces one of the worst run defenses in the league this week. The Raiders have one of the best pass defenses in the league, so the offensive game plan this season is no secret.
  • Darren McFadden has finally lived up to the hype this season. He has averaged over six yards per carry in 12 of the 13 games he has played in this season. He is the heart and soul of the Raiders’ offense and will need to put together a big time performance this week to come away with a victory. The Raiders may not be a playoff caliber team just yet, but McFadden’s production has resonated throughout the league. Message sent.

Wrap Up:

The Chiefs aren’t playing for anything worth noting, but they have a string of accomplishments that would look mightily impressive, should they choose to play all out on Sunday. They could go undefeated at home this season, produce the league’s top rusher, and have 11 wins for the first time since 2003. If it comes down to a matter of putting themselves in a better position to win in the playoffs, the Chiefs will obviously do what is best for their organization.

I like Kansas City in this one. The Raiders have nothing to play for and have bee stuck in a rut since they lost hope for making the playoffs this season. They took the Chiefs into overtime last time the two teams met, but don’t expect them to be so lucky when they head into Arrowhead. Playing in Kansas City is a nightmare and there is no reason the Chiefs should produce their first loss at home in Week 17.

Free NFL Pick: Kansas City -4


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