No longer unbeaten, Kansas City now must concentrate on remaining atop the AFC West and, if the Chiefs can manage it, in front of the rest of the conference pack.
The first step toward that comes Thursday night at Oakland, not exactly a favorite destination for the Chiefs through the years.
Except that recently, KC doesn’t lose within the division. Andy Reid’s crew has won 12 in a row against the AFC West, five straight and seven of the past eight against the Raiders. Most of those wins weren’t close.
“I wish I had the secret,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith says. “I’m sure it’s a ton of things. It’s ultimately about the 53 guys. It’s about us scratching and fighting and clawing for the smallest of little victories that end up being the difference to winning these games, because the margins are so small.”
With road teams winning more than they have lost this season (45-44), which hasn’t happened over a full schedule since the 1970 merger, the natural pick is the Chiefs (No. 2 in AP Pro32).
With this being one of the great, longstanding pro football rivalries, it’s hard to pick against the host Raiders (No. 24 in AP Pro32). Then again, there is that string of wins for Kansas City.
We will lay the 2½ points.
KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP
Another nail-biter, this time the Ravens rallying, then falling against the Bears. Pro Picks gets knocked out again.
Still, we march on with the RAMS.
No. 20 Tennessee (minus 5 1-2) at No. 32 Cleveland
Marcus Mariota showed so much Monday night, so we’ll climb aboard Titans bandwagon.
BEST BET: TITANS, 27-12
No. 12 Washington (plus 4 1-2) at No. 1 Philadelphia, Monday night
Winner of this one takes control of NFC East. Going with visitor given current trend.
UPSET SPECIAL: REDSKINS, 28-27
No. 17 Dallas (minus 4 1-2) at No. 31 San Francisco
Niners play close games, then lose them.
No. 25 (tie) Cincinnati (plus 5 1-2) at No. 4 Pittsburgh
Steelers turned it on for a while against KC, but rested Bengals will test them.
No. 9 Atlanta (plus 4 1-2) at No. 3 New England
Super Bowl rematch, neither team looking super.
No. 8 Los Angeles Rams (minus 3) vs. No. 21 Arizona at London
Much better matchup than anyone could have expected Twickenham to host.
No. 7 Seattle (minus 5) at No. 28 New York Giants
Giants won’t bite Seahawks in way they did Broncos.
No. 18 Jacksonville (minus 2) at No. 30 Indianapolis
Can’t figure Jaguars, but know Colts have little without Luck.
No. 23 Baltimore (plus 5 1-2) at No. 6 Minnesota
Can’t support Ravens right now.
No. 22 New York Jets (plus 5 1-2) at No. 19 Miami
Jets tend to play well against Dolphins. So should be close.
No. 5 Carolina (minus 3) at No. 9 Chicago
Despite loss to Eagles last week, we like what Panthers are showing.
No. 14 New Orleans (minus 1 1-2) at No. 11 Green Bay
Wonder what spread would be if A-Rod was healthy and playing.
No. 10 Denver (plus 2 1-2) at No. 27 Los Angeles Chargers
Chargers won two straight road games. Of course, nearly everyone is winning on road.
No. 25 (tie) Tampa Bay (OFF) at No. 15 Buffalo
With Winston, we’d probably like Bucs. Without him, who knows?
Last week: Against spread (6-7). Straight up (7-7)
Season Totals: Against spread (43-43-1). Straight up: (53-38)
Best Bet: 3-3 against spread, 4-2 straight up.
Upset special: 6-0 against spread, 6-0 straight up
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