The Raiders last beat the Chiefs in October 2020. Before that, they last beat them in October 2017. Therefore, Vegas is due an upset over their AFC West rival.
Kansas City is off a close loss to the Eagles on Monday Night. They were a few drops away from really making that game a blowout. Philadelphia showed you can beat Kansas City with consistent play from your running game and front seven. The Raiders should expect Kansas City to come out focused on execution this week.
Still, Kansas City narrowly escaped the Dolphins the week prior to playing Philly. They also lost by two scores to the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs are beatable if the Raiders play their game.
Last week, the Raiders fought hard versus a more talented Dolphins team. Per usual, they had no answer for Tyreek Hill. Hill left the game midway with injury and still finished with way over 100 yards receiving.
The Raiders defense still made enough plays and created enough turnovers to keep the team in reach. They needed more from their pass rush as far as sacks but they did a good job finding ways to get off the field on tough spots.
Unfortunately, Aiden O’Connell missed on a few shots that would’ve changed the game. He also threw three interceptions. O’Connell can’t afford another week like that.
Still, The Raiders also gave up on the run too early. They were trying to get Davante Adams engaged early. But they should’ve stuck with the run, particularly with left tackle Kolton Miller out. It only takes one big dash from Josh Jacobs and his entire yards per carry would have went up. That’s what’s crazy about yards per carry
Miller along with guard Dylan Parham are listed as questionable versus Kansas City. The Raiders will need to establish the run to control the clock and keep the Chiefs offense off the field. That’s hard to do if the Raiders get down big early. A few turnovers from the Raiders defense should also help negate any big plays from the Chiefs.
Maxx Crosby was listed as doubtful but he’s expected to play. The Raiders will need his pass rush versus Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs. Vegas needs someone else to step up and make some plays too. Tyree Wilson could be an x-factor this week. Either way, the interior lineman must be stout against the run too. Kansas City is too hard to beat when their running backs are engaged and clicking.
The Chiefs can get away from their run game. However, I expect them to rely on that given their receivers deficiencies. Regardless, we know Travis Kelce is a problem. The Raiders linebacker corps has dealt with injuries all season. They will be on notice. Hopefully safety Trevon Moehrig can play as the Raiders will need his help over the top.
A lot of people hope Vegas will sign All-Pro LB Darius Leonard after he was released by the Colts. Leonard makes a lot of sense as he can really play any of the linebacker spots. He’s a ball hawk, tackle machine and turnover creator. Leonard would fit nice to Spillane and the Raiders bulky interior front. Only issue is Leonard has dealt with injuries and inconsistent playing time over the last three seasons. It would still be cool if Vegas had him in this game for support in the middle.
Ultimately, the Raiders got to get the best out of what they have on their roster. They need to execute to the best of their ability to even have a chance in this game. Moreover, their best chance will come from sticking to their game plan.
The game plan needs to revolve around establishing the run and helping O’Connell find a rhythm with some easy passes. Vegas can not afford to not capitalize on good field positions or turnovers again. They need to run the ball on the first two downs to setup east third down conversions. Then they can mix in the deep shots to keep the defense honest.
On defense, they need to stay the course and play discipline versus the run. They need to find ways to pressure the quarterback and create some turnovers. Vegas has been able to do that in key spots this year. Most of all, they can’t get rattled if they give up a big play. They must have a bend don’t break mentality.
A loss here will bury the Raiders deeper in the AFC Wild Card race. Regardless, this home game versus a stronger opponent should tell us what we need to know about this Raiders team and head coach Antonio Pierce. Any one can coach when the team is winning. But how do you bounce back after a tough road loss? Will guys still respond and stick to the plan? What energy will they bring to their home field versus a rival that features a more talented roster?
If Vegas can pull out a win here, Pierce has a really strong case to keep his job. A loss wouldn’t mean a final verdict. However, it’s more important the Raiders keep their swagger and identify regardless if they win or lose.
Nonetheless, nobody wants silver linings. Raider Nation wants to beat the Chiefs. They want to stay in the playoff race. Let’s see if the Raiders can deliver. Just Win Baby!