Going into Week 17, all of Arrowhead Pride’s contributors thought the Kansas City Chiefs would defeat the Denver Broncos. When the two teams met in Week 14, the staff predicted a 13-point Kansas City victory. But for the rematch, our aggregate prediction was for an even bigger 32-14 win. 85% of the staff thought it would be a blowout — and none thought the score would be close to Sunday’s 27-24 final. To their credit, 13% of our readers thought the game would be a close win — and only 39% expected a blowout.
In Week 18, the Chiefs close the regular season with a road rematch against the Las Vegas Raiders. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored by nine points.
Let’s see what the staff — and our readers — think about the matchup.
Price Carter (@priceacarter)
Any team can rally around a backup quarterback for a week; after that, the shine begins to fade fast. The Raiders are a great offensive team (10th in points and 12th in yards), and that’s without their talented tight end and second-best wide receiver for most of the season. The Raiders bring a unique challenge to the Chiefs defense by being able to ground, pound and stretch the field vertically. The Chiefs' defense needs to generate some turnovers against a backup quarterback with more career interceptions than touchdowns.
Offensively, we know what the Chiefs have to do — probably score 28 or more points. The good news is the Raiders' defense is one of the bottom of the league in points and yards. The secondary really lacks the talent and depth to hold up a great passing attack. Look for the Chiefs to get the ball to their wide receivers, as Travis Kelce was limited to just 25 yards (and three touchdowns) in the previous matchup. Kansas City knows what it has to do to get a bye week, and the Raiders know what they must do to hurt their division rivals.
Chiefs 30, Raiders 28
Tom Childs (@tomchilds56)
The Raiders would love to end the Chiefs’ regular season with disappointment. For that reason, we will get both barrels and then some from Vegas. And coming off a performance in which they scored over 30 points against the 49ers, they’ll certainly fancy their chances to score on the Chiefs. The Chiefs' offense will look for more of the same in the Raiders' relatively new home. In its two previous visits, Kansas City has scored an average of 38 points. I think that they will rise that average this weekend.
Chiefs 41, Raiders 31
Nate Christensen (@natech32)
Last season, in Week 18, the Chiefs stumbled around in a frustrating game against a divisional rival with nothing to play for. This year, it’s the same circumstances. I’ve been higher on the Raiders than most this year, particularly on offense. Now that tight end Darren Waller and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow are back, their offense is operating at full capacity, something they haven’t enjoyed much this year. I expect the Chiefs to win, but I think there will be a lot of points scored, and I see this being a closer game than people expect.
Chiefs 34, Raiders 31
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
Even though five of the last eight games between Kansas City and Las Vegas have been Chiefs blowouts, I can’t predict a big win in this matchup. It’s a division game — and in Week 17, Jarrett Stidham showed us he has some skills. I expect a Kansas City victory — but not a beatdown.
Chiefs 34, Raiders 24
Maurice Elston (@recenickelz)
As much as I want this to be a blowout, I don’t see it turning out that way. Over the last few weeks, the Chiefs have shown us that the game will be close even against struggling teams. The Raiders have a lot of weapons on offense that will give the Chiefs’ defense some challenges. I expect the Raiders will be able to score against the Chiefs, but I do not see the Raiders’ defense being able to slow the Chiefs’ offense down at all. In the end, the Chiefs need to win this game to fully lock in the No. 1 seed for the playoffs, and I expect them to do just that: win.
Chiefs 31, Raiders 27
Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34)
One point is all that separated the Kansas City Chiefs and the Las Vegas Raiders back in Week 5 when the Chiefs came away as 30 to 29 victors. The Raiders will start quarterback Jarrett Stidham for the second consecutive game after benching Derek Carr. The Raiders nearly knocked off the San Francisco 49ers last week but fell in overtime. The Chiefs will need to be ready to maintain his athletic skill set, and the defensive line’s ability to get him uncomfortable is vital. We could be seeing the final game in a Raiders uniform for wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Josh Jacobs, as both could be departing this offseason. The scenarios surrounding the AFC 1-seed are complex, but at the end of the day, the Chiefs need to get a win for anything else to matter.
Chiefs 35, Raiders 21
Mark Gunnels (@MarkAGunnels)
There’s been so much discourse regarding the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and we finally have an answer. Well, kind of. One thing we know for sure is if the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Las Vegas Raiders, they’ll be the one seed. Whether or not they’ll be hosting a potential AFC Championship game is still up in the air, but the most significant advantage is getting the bye. In Jarrett Stidham’s first career start last week, he impressed. He threw for over 300 yards against the stout San Francisco 49ers defense. I think it’s safe to say the Niners may have overlooked him. I don’t expect the Chiefs' defense to do the same after seeing how capable he is. On the other side of the ball, if Patrick Mahomes has time in the pocket, he should have no problem carving up this secondary.
Chiefs 38, Raiders 24
Zach Gunter (@ZachGunter08)
This is a must-win game for Kansas City. The team is finally close to full strength with the only two offensive players on IR being Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jody Fortson. This team needs to prove they can win games big again. But I don’t think that will happen this week. The Raiders always play the Chiefs close.
But there is one thing I could see not going the Raiders’ way. The Chiefs have film on Stidham now. Something the Niners didn’t have. It’s up to the Chiefs' defense to take advantage of that. This game will be close. Bet on that.
Chiefs 34, Raiders 31
Conner Helm (@ArrowheadConner)
In case you’re new here, no AFC West game is a cakewalk. This Raiders team has nothing to play for outside of pride, and I believe that will be enough to make this a game. Patrick Mahomes will have to play a better game than last week to win this game. If the Chiefs win the turnover battle, they should come out on top without causing too much worry, but that has rarely happened this year.
Mahomes only need 430 yards passing to overtake Peyton Manning for the most passing yards in a season. I expect Mahomes and company to do that against a Raiders team that ranks 31st in pass defense per the NFL’s Next Gen Stats.
Chiefs 33, Raiders 24
Caleb James (@CJScoobs)
The Raiders have three impact players who the Chiefs must be on the lookout for if they want to win on Saturday. Josh Jacobs leads the NFL in rushing, but his status is up in the air after missing practice Thursday. Davante Adams is third in the league in receiving yards, and if you remember, he torched the Chiefs for 124 yards and two touchdowns on just three receptions. The Raiders' defense is modest, but defensive end Maxx Crosby is capable of wrecking any game. Shut down and limit these three, and it should be a good day for Kansas City.
With the one seed on the line, the Chiefs should look to bring their “A game” and try to earn a well-earned bye week. Patrick Mahomes will have one more game this regular season to propel himself toward an MVP trophy, and a big day against a familiar foe seems like a fitting end to an elite regular season.
Chiefs 35, Raiders 17
Ashley Justice (@Justice_Paur88)
At the beginning of this season, I couldn’t have predicted that Derek Carr’s time as a Raider would end before the Chiefs could face the Raiders for a second time. Naturally, I am relishing in the dysfunction (my feelings of schadenfreude are off the charts at the moment), but I am well aware that a team with nothing to play for can be dangerous.
Exhibit A: last week.
The majority of my predictions have been relegated to the land of “should.” The Chiefs “should” beat the Colts, the Chiefs “should” beat the Broncos and the Chiefs “should” beat the Raiders. Maxx Crosby, Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs could absolutely go off, and Jarrett Stidham has a job to win. It will be a competitive game, but one the Chiefs — once again — “should” win.
Chiefs 27, Raiders 21
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
This regular-season finale might be one of the most intense since 2019 when the Chiefs needed a win and a loss by the New England Patriots to secure the AFC’s top seed. They only need to worry about winning here, but I think the anticipation level of the final game before the playoffs is a good thing, as it was in 2019. I could see the Raiders’ offense pushing the Chiefs to the edge, but their defense won’t be able to hold up their end of the deal. Patrick Mahomes puts the cherry on top of an MVP season by heading a big day from the offense.
Chiefs 38, Raiders 30
Aaron Ladd (aaronladd0)
The Chiefs and Raiders in the first taste of NFL action since Monday’s postponement. It feels like KC last played a month ago, and with the No. 1 seed well within their grasp, everything feels different entering week 18.
Another tight AFC West game last week showed me a few things: 1) The special teams unit is broken and needs a major overhaul, 2) KC is still able to win ugly and 3) the run game is more important than ever to offensive success. I think Mahomes and company handle business in Vegas, but the process matters entering postseason play.
Chiefs 27, Raiders 24
Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana)
Derek Carr is no longer the quarterback of the Raiders. The Chiefs can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win, and they're still playing the Loss Vegas Faders. Stidham looked decent last week with no film on him. I don’t expect he’ll have the same level of success against the Chiefs. While it seems at times that the Chiefs are sleepwalking into the playoffs, it won’t take much to beat this train wreck of a Raiders team.
The Chiefs win, but I’m not sure how pretty it will be.
Chiefs 20, Raiders 10
Ricko Mendoza (@ricko_mendoza_)
Kansas City currently has a four-game winning streak against Las Vegas, which includes a thrilling 30-29 Monday Night victory in Week 5. In that game, the Raiders torched the Chiefs' defense with their star players, as running back Josh Jacobs had 21 carries for 154 yards and one touchdown, and wideout Davante Adams caught three passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
However, this time, the Raiders' offense will look much different as former starting quarterback Derek Carr was replaced by backup Jarrett Stidham. Although Stidham performed solidly against a tough 49ers defense, he now finds himself in a shootout with MVP front-runner Patrick Mahomes who threw four touchdowns in the previous matchup. With the number-one seed in the AFC on the line, I expect the Chiefs to take care of business as they prepare for their upcoming postseason run.
Chiefs 30, Raiders 23
This has been a one-of-a-kind week for the NFL and has significantly impacted the players, coaches, and teams. One thing that changed was the fact that all the Chiefs have to do to be the first seed and earn the bye is beat the Raiders on Saturday. This is huge for Kansas City. Given the emotional atmosphere that has enveloped virtually all the players and coaches, I believe we will see every team play with passion and emotion. For this reason, and the fact that the Chiefs simply have to win to get the number one seed, I genuinely believe they will rise to the occasion. I know that virtually all of the divisional games in the AFC West are played so close. I believe the Chiefs will do what we have waited all year for them to do, which is to just crush and dominate their opponent and win by a large margin.
Chiefs 38, Raiders 23
Tom Ruprecht (@truprecht)
Yes, some things make me nervous. Stidham looked great last week. The Chiefs’ inability to put teams away. The possibility of some calls going against the Chiefs to make up for the home-field controversy.
Just win, baby.
Let’s not overthink this. At the end of the day, it’s Mahomes vs. the Raiders.
Just win, baby.
Get the victory and the week off.
Chiefs 35, Raiders 27
Kramer Sansone (@KramerTalks)
We have yet to see the Chiefs lose a game because of their special team blunders — but it has been close. The Raiders last week showed they still want to win and end the season on a high note, and it will be a challenging task against the Chiefs. This game will come down to how either teams special teams will play. The Raiders showed a lot of fight with Jarrett Stidham at quarterback and would not be shocked if he led the Raiders to beat the Chiefs. I am a gambling man — so I am picking the Raiders.
Raiders 30, Chiefs 27
Jared Sapp (@TrumanChief)
This is the most difficult week for NFL predictions, both due to normal Week 18 uncertainty and the unprecedented situation teams are playing through. The Raiders gave the 49ers a scare a week ago — but bad teams are often bad teams by being unable to string together good performances when they happen.
I expect new Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham to play somewhere between the unstoppable force seen last weekend and the disaster under center the Chiefs saw two years with the New England Patriots. The Chiefs will have some frustrating moments, and the Raiders will be game, but ultimately it will be obvious which team still has something to play for.
Chiefs 33, Raiders 24
Nick Schwerdt (@nick_schwerdt)
This is simply the type of game that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs don’t lose. It’s been an eerie week around the NFL, but as the dust settles following that harrowing scene on Monday Night Football, Kansas City finds themselves in a good spot with this matchup against Las Vegas has effectively become a playoff game. I think Mahomes puts a rubber stamp on his MVP case, and the Chiefs take care of business vs. a team with nothing to play for.
Chiefs 31, Raiders 21
Stephen Serda (@StephenSerda)
It feels like a bad bet at this point in the season to pick the Chiefs to blow out any team. They continue to play down to their opponents while we’re still chasing some kind of dominant win ahead of the postseason. I’m just not buying the Jarrett Stidham performance last week against the 49ers. We see this often happen in the NFL when there’s no real tape for the defense to break down, and there’s no way San Francisco was prepared for how aggressive the Raiders were offensively. They’ve got nothing to lose, so I’d expect another aggressive approach, but the Chiefs have to be ready for it. Travis Kelce hasn’t scored in five games so he’s due for a big one. I think the Chiefs carve up the Raiders' secondary.
Chiefs 34, Raiders 17
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
The Chiefs need a win to secure the first-round bye. With all the other noise, speculation and emotion of the week, that one fact remains the most important thing left for your team to focus on. Win, and everything is on the table. Lose to the lowly, QB-changing Raiders? Everything should be called into question. It’s a razor’s edge for this season’s Kansas City Chiefs. The last regular season game would be nice to use as a tune-up and maybe even to get a big enough lead to rest some of the key starters. But, based on how this season has gone, I wouldn’t count on it. The Raiders still have some fight in them, and division games are often weird. I hope to see Kadarius Toney and Patrick Mahomes continue building their connection and making plays. I hope to see the Chiefs' defense clean up the drive-extending penalties and shut down the Raiders' weapons. We’ll see a sloppy nail-biter that will give us more questions than answers. But, in the end, there’s no reason the Chiefs shouldn’t come out on top with the #1 seed.
Chiefs 38, Raiders 31
Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_)
It’s a standalone nationally televised bout against a Raiders team that took the Chiefs to the wire back in Week 5. Kansas City knows a first-round playoff bye is on the line. I’m not expecting it to be overly pretty, but this game has far too great a spotlight on it for the Chiefs to let it slip away. They earn a pass through the Wild Card round.
Chiefs 35, Raiders 27
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
You know the gif that is out there, the one fantasy football or sports wagerers use when they fall for a player or team — it’s a clip of Mr. Rogers (the greatest, by the way) putting on a clown mask. That’s me on Saturday, predicting a complete Chiefs’ blowout for the fifth week in a row. But I still feel that if this Kansas City team can play clean, turnover-free football, with the offense clicking on all cylinders, the defense not giving up explosive plays and the kicker making everything under 50 yards, they are unbeatable. That’s been much easier said than done — but the final week of the regular season would be the perfect time to put it all together.
Chiefs 37, Raiders 17
Dakota Watson (@dwatson_56)
This game will have a very odd feel to it, at least initially. This is the first NFL game following the events on Monday night and with the NFL’s playoff seeding decision. These two teams look very different than when they faced off in October. Derek Carr is no longer even with the team. I rarely think we can rely on the Chiefs in a blowout, but I do believe this is the week we can do it. Despite a strong performance last week, the Raiders are only one game from the offseason, and I think they’ll play as such. While Jarrett Stidham had a good showing last week, I think the improved Chiefs’ pass rush will feast, especially if Josh Jacobs does not play and the Raiders are forced to pass. The Chiefs take care of business to kick off week 18.
Chiefs 41, Raiders 24
Which team wins Chiefs (13-3) at Raiders (6-10)?
This poll is closed
Chiefs in a blowout (14 or more points)
Chiefs in an easy win (8-13 points)
Chiefs in a close game (7 or fewer points)
Raiders in a close game
Raiders in an easy win
Raiders in a blowout
|24||24||Ron Kopp Jr.||12||4||0.7500||26.9|
Ties in the standings are broken with prediction points error — how much each prediction misses the actual point spread and the number of points scored by each team.
In Week 17, just two AP contributors chose to predict a Kansas City victory of fewer than 14 points. John Dixon’s 30-20 prediction was off by 14 points. Talon Graff’s 31-20 pick was right behind with 16 points of error. For the second time this season, our Madden simulation did better than most of the staff. It predicted a 35-25 Chiefs victory that was also 16 points off.