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@FastMoneyLabs' Monday Night Football Primer & Pick - 10/10

Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

See my breakdown of the matchup, followed by discussion of why I didn’t take a tempting bet… plus one I did.

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Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

Key Trends

  • Chiefs: 7-1 (87.5%) straight up vs. Raiders in Mahomes era
  • Only loss came in Week 5, 2020, as 11-point home favorites
  • Average line in those contests was Chiefs -9.94
  • Kansas City covered in 5 of the 8 matchups (average margin +8.81 points)
  • At home, KC was 3-1 ATS, covering by an average margin of +11.88 points
  • The wide cover margin is explained by Raiders’ inability to put up points at Arrowhead Stadium. They’ve been held to 9 or less points in 3 of 4 visits since 2018
  • Meanwhile KC scored 28+ points in all 8 matchups, and 32+ in all 4 at home
  • The consistent Chiefs offense helped push the Game Total ‘Over’ the closing line in 5 of the 8 games; however, at home, the Over was just 2-2 (mainly due to Vegas’ inability to score)

Market Signals

  • Per Action Network, 73% of spread tickets are on the Chiefs to cover
  • However, 48% of actual money wagered (i.e., the handle) is hitting Raiders, indicating sharper bettors prefer the Underdog – at least at the +7.5 line
  • This led sportsbooks to shave half a point off the spread (from 7.5 to 7)
  • Tonight’s game total opened at 50.5, drifted up to 52.5, and then settled in around 51.5. If it closes there, it will mark the 3rd lowest Game Total for a Chiefs/Raiders matchup in the Mahomes era

Matchup Cheat Sheet

See my breakdown of key performance indicators entering Week 5:

FML

Are you surprised the Chiefs hold majority of perceived edges tonight? The difference, at least theoretically, should be reflected in the 7-point spread.

What’s interesting, at least for me, lies in the ‘When Vegas has the ball’ section. It reveals Vegas’ offense ranked #10 pre-season but dropped to #20 through 4 weeks of play. One way to interpret this is that they’re due for better performance soon, at a time they’re due to also get WR Hunter Renfrow back from concussion protocol. Renfrow’s return should help in that regard, but how much will it move the needle? The opposite storyline applies to the Chiefs defense, which has outperformed pre-season expectations through 4 weeks. They ranked #30 pre-season but improved to #14 entering tonight. Are they truly better than expected? Or are they due for some negative regression soon, if not tonight?

For Vegas to beat the spread (or win outright), they likely need better performance from QB Derek Carr, whose 62.3 PFF QB grade ranks #27 out of 36 QBs this season. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes ranks #3 by that same measure (82.5 PFF grade).

Lastly, here’s an interesting nugget from the cheat sheet: it reveals both sides are benefiting from some fumble luck this season on offense, as they’re recovering 80%+ of fumbles. However, on defense the opposite is true, with both sides recovering just 33.3% of forced fumbles. Taken together, the trends suggest both sides are due for better fumble luck on defense, and worse luck on offense. I’m interested to see how that plays out tonight in a head-to-head matchup.

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Best Bet

I personally lean Chiefs to cover (Mahomes is 4-1-1 ATS on Monday night football) but also respect the market signals tilting towards Vegas on the spread. Given game-day spreads can be tough to beat, especially in primetime (they have soooo many eyes on them), I didn’t personally wager on it tonight.

For my best bet, I was leaning towards backing the tried-and-true trend that is the Chiefs to put up points… in the 1st Half vs. Vegas. They’ve now scored 17+ 1st Half points in 7 of 8 matchups vs. them in the Mahomes era, and 21+ in all 4 home games.

The Raiders are also surrendering a good deal of 1st half points. Even the lowly Denver Broncos scored 16 first half points on them last week. It’s hard to see that train stopping in Kansas City.

However, I noticed two important caveats to the trend that led me to hold off: Number one relates to how the Chiefs perform in primetime, specifically at home. Tonight’s 1st Half Team Total line is o/u 14.5, which KC failed to cover in 6 straight primetime games at Arrowhead Stadium (regular season). It’s not like they were close, either (they only scored 14 once in six tries, and it came vs. the Giants).

They’re also without kicker Harrison Butker again tonight, which could make it difficult to cover the 14.5 line (which requires 2 touchdowns and a field goal, or 3 touchdowns).

Given those caveats, I decided against a bet on the 1H TT (though it was very tempting).

Here’s a bet I did end up taking, and it’s my best: Davante Adams to score a TD (+125) at Caesars.

The Chiefs defense ranks #31 out of 32 defending WR1s this season (per Football Outsiders), and we saw Mike Evans carve them up out of that spot last week with 8 catches, 103 yards and 2 scores.

While Davante’s been somewhat tough to predict on his new team, Hunter Renfrow’s return should relieve some pressure off the star at a time when Derek Carr is likely due for a better performance, while the Chiefs defense is due for worse performance.

Adams already has 3 touchdowns this season, which is impressive considering how his QB has played. Tonight’s game script figures to be pass-heavy, and if Vegas wants to win, they need to buck their trend of scoring 9 or less points at Arrowhead Stadium. If I was tasked with game planning to do just that, why not deploy my newest weapon in the red zone? Davante wasn’t around for the past KC/LV matchups, and I see him as the most likely difference maker in the national spotlight.

THE PICK:

The Pick: Davante Adams to score a Touchdown (+125)

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

FML
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