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Are the Chiefs for real? At a time when the reigning NFC champion Eagles are drawing heavy scrutiny -- and suggesting internal panic -- amid a very imperfect playoff push, the defending Super Bowl winners have been just as, if not, more susceptible to hiccups. Since starting 6-1, Kansas City has dropped four of its last seven, making weekly headlines more for controversy -- an iffy call here, a dropped pass there -- than the on-field dominance that's so often marked the Patrick Mahomes era.

Fresh off a win over the Patriots, could the Chiefs finally restore momentum on Christmas Day? As part of the NFL's first-ever holiday tripleheader on Dec. 25, Mahomes and Co. will play host to the rival Raiders with a chance to clinch the AFC West and secure their ninth straight playoff appearance. But Las Vegas isn't necessarily a pushover, coming off a 63-21 shellacking of the Chargers that has interim coach Antonio Pierce in the conversation for the team's full-time gig.

As the AFC West foes go head to head for the holidays, what are the keys to their matchup? And how can you tune in? Here's everything you need to know, including a prediction and expert picks for the Week 16 showdown:

How to watch

Keys to the game

  • How healthy are the running backs? Neither the Chiefs nor the Raiders have owned the ground game this year; K.C. ranks 20th in rushing offense, and Las Vegas ranks dead-last. But the tough-nosed Isiah Pacheco is trending toward a full workload after returning from injury for the Chiefs, while Josh Jacobs is also on track to suit up for the Raiders. While the latter has been inefficient as a whole, he thrived the last time these two clubs met, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Pierce could give him another chance to shoulder the offense, taking some of the burden off rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell.
  • Can the Raiders secondary set the tone? While Las Vegas is vulnerable defending the run, Pierce's club quietly boasts the NFL's No. 11-ranked pass "D," with veterans like Marcus Epps bringing physicality on the back end. Couple that with the Chiefs' notoriously unpredictable WR corps, which includes maligned speedsters Kadarius Toney and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and perhaps there's a recipe for the Raiders to hang around. Maxx Crosby's presence off the edge is also a plus.
  • Is this Travis Kelce's time to shine? The star tight end has topped 90 receiving yards just once in the last two months, but with the Raiders nursing several injuries in the middle of their defense, he could draw even more looks from Mahomes. The last time he did hit 90 yards? It came against these Raiders. Throw in Pacheco's return, which could help establish the play-action, and we could be looking at a signature outing for the big man. That's not even accounting for the possibility that Taylor Swift and family will be in the box for this special Christmas Day contest.


Did the Raiders' 63-point showing against the Chargers signal a complete and total turnaround? We're not going that far. But it's clear Las Vegas has a different spirit under Pierce's direction, and play-makers like Davante Adams and Maxx Crosby still command legit attention. Their underrated defensive fight should keep this relatively closer than expected, as was the case early in their last meeting. But the talent disparity at QB can't be ignored, and the Chiefs' own "D" has been stingy for much of the year. It may not be pretty, but with Pacheco reinforcing the running backfield and Kelce primed for a big afternoon, Andy Reid's squad should be able to control the ball well enough to capture the AFC West crown yet again.

Pick: Chiefs 26, Raiders 17

And if you're wondering who all of our experts are picking for the game, here are their against-the-spread predictions:

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Pete Prisco
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Will Brinson
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Jared Dubin
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Ryan Wilson
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John Breech
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Tyler Sullivan
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Dave Richard
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Jamey Eisenberg
Raiders at Chiefs (-10)