The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t sure how the AFC postseason picture will finish up, but they do know they have to win in Week 18. That motivation has the Chiefs as heavy favorites taking on the Las Vegas Raiders in Sin City on Saturday.
With the status of the suspended Buffalo-Cincinnati game up in the air, Kansas City’s path to the No. 1 seed in the AFC isn’t crystal clear but taking care of business in this season finale is all Andy Reid & Co. care about
Las Vegas also has an agenda in Week 18. Head coach Josh McDaniels could be “singing for his supper” after a first year littered with late-game collapses and many calling for his job. As well, new starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham is trying to impress ahead of the 2023-24 campaign after a surprisingly strong effort in last weekend’s loss to San Francisco.
How does it all trickle down in the NFL player props for this Saturday showdown? We dish out our best NFL prop picks for Chiefs at Raiders on January 7.
Be sure to also check out our Chiefs vs. Raiders picks and predictions for a full game preview!
Chiefs vs Raiders prop picks
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Chiefs vs Raiders Week 18 props
Grab the bag on flags
The last time the Chiefs and Raiders played, there were more flags flying than the United Nations with the teams called for a collective 16 penalties in Week 5 – 11 of which were on Las Vegas. We could see just as many in Week 18.
Scott Novak’s crew is calling this Saturday contest and enters as the seventh-most whistle-happy crew out of 17 officiating crews in the NFL. Their infractions of choice have been false starts, offensive holding, defensive holding, and defensive pass interference — all of which play into the bad habits of these two teams.
Las Vegas is starting an inexperienced QB in Jarrett Stidham vs. a very aggressive Kansas City front four in an offense that has been whistled for 20 offensive holding infractions and 19 false starts — the two most common calls against the Silver and Black this season.
Raiders right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor is one of the biggest offenders in the league with 11 total penalties (third most) entering Week 18. He was dinged twice versus KC in Week 5, penalized for a chop block and an illegal block above the waist.
On the Kansas City side of things, the Chiefs’ secondary has been very handsy and has been flagged for a league-high 13 defensive pass interference calls in 2022-23, two of which came against Vegas in that Week 5 meeting.
You have Las Vegas’ top targets like Davante Adams and Darren Waller getting great matchups in this game, so don’t be surprised to see the Chiefs get frustrated and physical. The Chiefs have also had their share of holding calls, with 21 on the year.
Last year’s AFC West rivalry games between these foes produced penalty totals of 13 and 17, and the two 2020 matchups had a collective 18 penalties in both contests.
Novak and crew will get their quota (averaging 13.73 flags per game) and then some Saturday night.
Game Prop: Over 11.5 total accepted penalties (-135 at bet365)
Cue the “Old Lady from Titanic” GIF.
While Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce hasn’t scored a touchdown in five straight games, it’s felt like 84 years to fantasy owners and the legions of NFL bettors who lined up to play his touchdown props each and every game day.
So, who’s been stealing all of Kelce’s touchdown thunder? Running back Jerick McKinnon, that’s who.
Kelce hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 12 while McKinnon has eight TDs in the past five games, including scoring twice in three of his last four outings. Yet, despite his nose for the end zone and Kelce’s drought, the TD anytime markets are way off on these two talents.
Kelce is listed anywhere from -128 to as high as -180 to find paydirt — a huge price hike considering his TD prop was posted at -105 and -120 the past two weeks, respectively. McKinnon, on the other hand, is paying out as big as +150 to keep the touchdown train on the tracks, which is a short dip from last week’s odds of +160.
Sure, Kelce scored four touchdowns in his last matchup with the Raiders in Week 5, but over his career, he’s been somewhat shut out of the end zone against this AFC West rival. Take Week 5 out of the equation, and Kelce has just seven touchdowns in 16 career games vs. the Silver and Black.
Given the big spread and game script for this Week 18 finale, we’re likely to see more handoffs from the Chiefs in the second half, and should Kansas City get up big on the scoreboard, Patrick Mahomes could take a seat (along with Kelce ), leaving the offense primarily in the hands of McKinnon and the RBs.
Let’s not forget McKinnon’s catch-and-run ability as well. He’s been a big part of this passing game, with all but one of those eight touchdowns recorded as receiving scores. He’s been targeted 28 times for 25 receptions during this five-game TD bonanza and sits second among RBs in red-zone targets with 15 (11 catches).
Las Vegas ranks among the worst red-zone defenses in the NFL, allowing enemies to crack the goal line on 64.58% of their possessions inside the 20-yard line. The Raiders have been especially crappy defending the pass in the red zone, ranked out 23rd in RZ pass defense DVOA at Football Outsiders. They’ve also allowed the most receiving yards to running backs (818 yards) and four touchdowns through the air to the position.
Kelce is a tempting touchdown bet, considering his last showing against Vegas. But McKinnon continues to make money in Week 18.
Jerick McKinnon Prop: Anytime Touchdown (+150)
Be a baller, bet on Waller
Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller is working his way back into form for this finale after missing a massive chunk of the schedule.
Waller returned to action in Week 15, following a nine-game hiatus due to an injured hamstring (missed the first meeting with KC), and has gradually watched his output climb over the past three outings. – all against strong stop units which are Top 15 in defending tight ends.
He turned three catches into 48 yards against the Patriots, four catches into 58 yards against Pittsburgh, and three receptions into 72 yards against San Francisco last weekend.
Stidham targeted the big tight end five times in Week 17 against a very solid San Francisco defense and could lean on Waller as a safety blanket in this matchup with Kansas City, which is able to drum up solid pressure with a feisty front four.
The Chiefs do struggle against tight ends, given poor coverage linebackers like Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr. as well as safeties like Juan Thornhill and Justin Reid, who rank out low in pass coverage. The KC corners are solid but will have their hands full with WRs Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow. That leaves plenty of opportunities for Waller underneath or to break out for a big shot when mismatches occur.
According to Football Outsiders, Kansas City’s defense ranks 21st in DVOA versus tight ends, allowing an average of 51.1 yards on 7.5 targets per game to the position. The Chiefs recently allowed 40-plus days to no-name TEs like Albert Okwuegbunam, Colby Parkinson, and Greg Dulcich, and face a big step up in the TE class against Waller.
Given the game script, with the Chiefs as double-digit chalk, and a total of 53 points (the tallest of Week 18), Stidham and the Raiders may have no other choice but to go pass heavy to keep pace or catch up. All good things for Waller’s receiving yards total.
Darren Waller Prop: Over 32.5 receiving yards 40.5 (-115)