Predictions for Chiefs vs. Raiders, Week 18

The Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) are gearing up to face the Las Vegas Raiders (6-10) in Week 18.

Just as we have over the past six seasons, the Chiefs Wire staff will offer its weekly predictions for each Chiefs game. Below you’ll find all of our picks for Kansas City’s Week 18 matchup against the Raiders on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 3:30 p.m. CT at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada

Charles Goldman's prediction:

​Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a tough week to predict in the NFL in light of the Damar Hamlin injury, but I think spirits might be higher across the league now that he’s breathing on his own and speaking. For Kansas City, the stakes this week are as high as they’ve been in any single game this season. If they win against the Raiders, they get the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye week. 

The Chiefs have done a really good job of focusing on the things they could control this week. That is to say, they have been taking care of business in team meetings and at practice. With a full game’s worth of tape on Jarrett Stidham, I’m not too concerned about him having the type of performance that he did against the 49ers a week ago. The Raiders don’t have much more to play for than pride this week, so I suspect there might be some players there who are more prone to making business decisions. 

In the end, I expect Kansas City will be able to best Las Vegas on the road. Jerick McKinnon will score a touchdown. Frank Clark and Chris Jones will have some heroic moments. The rookies will continue to improve and Kadarius Toney’s role will continue to expand.

Chiefs 31, Raiders 23

Wesley Roesch's prediction:

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Nine of the Raiders’ 10 losses this season have been by seven or fewer points. The Chiefs beat the Raiders by just one point earlier this season, and Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham managed to put up 34 points on the 49ers last week. With all that in mind, this one will probably be close.

Not that the Raiders have any incentive to win besides ruining the Chiefs’ first-round bye hopes. That might be motivation enough to play hard, though. Everyone plays the Chiefs like it is their Super Bowl.

The Chiefs will need to treat this like a playoff game because it essentially is one. A win gives them a playoff bye and a guarantee that they wouldn’t have to meet both the Bills and the Bengals in the postseason. They know the stakes, so I expect them to treat the game as such. I don’t see them leaving Vegas without a W.

Chiefs 34, Raiders 31

Ed Easton Jr.'s prediction:

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The Kansas City Chiefs will battle the Las Vegas Raiders again with a sweep of the AFC West and a chance at the top seed in the playoffs on their mind. The goal will be to win the game and walk out unscathed from injuries heading into postseason play.

The Chiefs’ offense will look to inflict damage early on the road, with Patrick Mahomes still a leading candidate for league MVP. Jerick McKinnon should extend his touchdown streak while Travis Kelce picks up where he left off from their matchup in Kansas City. Kadarius Toney should see more action while Mecole Hardman works himself back into form.

The defense should keep their solid play going with consistent pressure from the defensive line on Jarret Stidham. The secondary could be in for a nice stats-padding day with takeaways on the table since the Raiders aren’t expected to be conservative. Special teams will right their wrongs from most of the season with fine execution across the board in a regular-season finale victory.

Chiefs 42, Raiders 14

Nick Roesch's prediction:

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On paper, this looks like a matchup where the Chiefs should handle business relatively easily. The Raiders don’t do much of anything well on defense, ranking in the bottom five of the league against the pass, forcing turnovers, and getting sacks. They could also be without stud running back Josh Jacobs, which would be a huge blow.

Nine of the Raiders’10 losses this season have been by just one possession. Every AFC West win for the Chiefs this season has come by one possession. I expect the Raiders to be fired up to play spoiler and play the Chiefs well, but at the end of the day, K.C. just has too much talent and too much on the line to lose this game.

The Chiefs shouldn’t have problems putting up points against Las Vegas as long as they aren’t sloppy with the ball and committing silly turnovers. Defensively I think the key will be to keep Jarrett Stidham under duress. Stidham played well last week but threw two crucial interceptions, both of which he was heavily pressured.

Chiefs 31, Raiders 27

Story originally appeared on Chiefs Wire