The Kansas City Chiefs have had the look of an elite team this season. One loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers is not going to change that.
The Chiefs tasted defeat for the first time this season as they lost 19-13 to a motivated Steelers team in Week 6 at home.
A combination of veteran head coach Andy Reid and an experienced quarterback like Alex Smith should be able to get the Chiefs back on track. Since they will be facing the divisional rival Oakland Raiders, it should be easy for the team to regain its focus.
Smith has a solid running game to help him, as rookie running back Kareem Hunt has been making big plays throughout the season. He has demonstrated power and speed when he gets the ball in his hand.
Tight end Travis Kelce is one of the most dangerous players at his position, and Smith will be counting on him to make big plays against the Raiders. WR Tyreek Hill is in the concussion protocol as a result of a fourth-quarter hit, and his status has not been determined.
The Raiders have endured several missteps and injuries this season, and they are coming off a 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Los Angeles took the game on a last-second field goal by Nick Novak, and the Raiders are just 2-4 after many observers expected them to be an AFC title contender this season.
However, the sight of the Chiefs should bring out the Raiders' best effort. Kansas City is a 2.5-point favorite in the Thursday night game, according to OddsShark.
Look for the Raiders to rally behind QB Derek Carr and take an early lead. However, the Chiefs are too powerful, and they will pull away and win by at least seven points.
Week 7 point spreads and predictions
Matchup, point spread, prediction
Kansas City at Oakland, KC -2.5, Kansas City
Carolina at Chicago, Car. -3.5, Chicago
New Orleans at Green Bay, NO -4.5, NO
Baltimore at Minnesota, Minn. -5, Baltimore*
Tampa Bay at Buffalo, Buff. -3, Buffalo
Tennessee at Cleveland, Tenn. -6.5, Tennessee
Jacksonville at Indianapolis, Jack. -3, Indianapolis
New York Jets at Miami, Mia. -3.5, NYJ
Arizona vs. L.A. Rams (London), LAR -3.5. L.A. Rams
Dallas at San Francisco, Dall. -4.5, San Francisco*
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, Pitt. -6, Pittsburgh
Denver at L.A. Chargers, Den. -2.5, L.A. Chargers
Seattle at N.Y. Giants, Sea. -7.5, Seattle
Atlanta at New England, NE -3, Atlanta
*-Will cover point spread but lose game.
Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears
The Panthers lost 28-23 to the Philadelphia Eagles at home after picking up a pair of impressive road wins at New England and Detroit.
Since head coach John Fox installed rookie Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback, the Bears seem to be playing much more competitive football. The Bears nearly beat the Minnesota Vikings in a Week 5 Monday night game, and then defeated the Baltimore Ravens in overtime Sunday.
Trubisky is far from an accomplished quarterback, but he is talented and has shown he can make a few plays that predecessor Mike Glennon was incapable of making.
The Bears might have beaten the Ravens easily if they had not conceded two special teams touchdowns. That's an area that the Bears will have to clean up as the season progresses.
The Panthers have an explosive weapon in rookie RB Christian McCaffrey. He can run with the ball, but he appears to be an even more valuable weapon as a receiver.
Look for QB Cam Newton to get the ball to him regularly in this game. The quarterback started the season slowly, but he surged against the Pats and Lions before enduring a three-interception effort against the Eagles.
His up-and-down performances makes it difficult to make confident judgments in favor of the Panthers. Carolina comes into this game as a 3.5-point favorite.
Look for the Bears to make this a competitive game at home. It should come down to a field goal either way, and that will keep this game within the point spread. Take the points and the Bears.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers were humiliated in Week 5 when they were defeated 30-9 at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That defeat may be the turning point for the Steelers. Instead of going into a funk after that loss, head coach Mike Tomlin took his team to raucous Arrowhead Stadium and handed the Kansas City Chiefs their first defeat of the season.
While the offense looked like it was in disarray in the loss to Jacksonville, the Steelers' triplets were in sync against the Chiefs. Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown all made key contributions in the 19-13 victory.
Now the Steelers have a chance to make amends on their home field. In addition to finding their stride, they will be playing a key division rival in the Cincinnati Bengals.
While the Bengals have picked it up after an awful offensive start, we don't think that Cincinnati can stay with the Steelers when both teams are at or close to their best.
The Steelers are strong enough defensively to shut down Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense. If they have hit their stride, the Steelers should be able to cover the six-point spread. We like the Steelers and expect them to do just that.