The Las Vegas Raiders entered week 6 with a well deserved bye after defeating their rivals the Kansas City Chiefs by eight points.
No one, including myself gave Vegas a realistic shot at beating the Chiefs. Kansas City was playing well and the Raiders were up and down. An emphasis on the down part in the second half.
Still, I am thankful I was wrong. Vegas became the first team to defeat Chiefs starting QB Pat Mahomes by more than a touchdowns.
Kudos to Derek Carr and Jon Gruden for leading this team out of a two-game slump. The team could’ve gone either way but a statement road win over the Super Bowl champs should give this team momentum. For as much credit as they get for the teams struggling offense in the second half of past games, they deserve credit for coming out swinging this time.
The Chiefs played hard too. They didn’t play their best but it was far from a let down. Andy Reid has totally owned the Raiders since coming to the AFC West. The weather also fell into favor for the Raiders and Carr.
It also helped getting Trent Brown and Henry Ruggs back. You see the instant impact Ruggs brings when opponents must respect his speed on deep routes and play actions. Brown also brings his own level of physicality to the run game.
The defensive line also had their best outing of the season. Maxx Crosby is the only one who got home but Clellin Ferrell and Mo Hurst both played well.
Now, the question is how do the Raiders return from the Bye. Their next game won’t be any slouch. They’ll face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers off their own big win of the NFC favorite Green Bay Packers.
Tampa Bay beat the Panthers and lost to the Saints. The Raiders beat both those two common opponents.
Moreover, the Raiders can’t act like they made their season with one win over a division opponent. They still have five more division games including another one against Kansas City.
Again, it’s not about reinventing the wheel. The Raiders need to keep pushing the ball. Three receiver sets continue to work. Nelson Agholor continues to make big plays. Hunter Renefrow got his strike in. They will need those contributions along with Darren Waller’s consistency versus a Tampa defense that is good against the pass.
On defense, the Raiders need to continue finding ways to get sacks. They also could have problems with the Bucs multiple tight ends.
Added pressure from the front can disrupt Tom Brady. Otherwise, the Raiders could face a long day with all that size and speed Tampa offers on the outside.
The Buccaneers also have a loaded backfield. Ronald Jones has come on as the starter but Leonard Fournette will probably return to the mix this week. Fournette’s size and physicality factors in versus a Raiders defense that can struggle versus the run. Jones’ is a threat as a pass catcher and runner. He’s shifty and could make some Raiders miss.
Ultimately, the Raiders will need to continue controlling the clock with Josh Jacobs. That’s the easiest way to cool down this Tampa offense that is loaded with weapons. They’ll also need to keep taking deep shots to keep the defense honest.
Tampa’s offensive line is good too. They are top-10 in run and pass blocking. Still, the Raiders defensive line proved it could impact games versus a good offensive line a few weeks ago in Kansas City. They need to keep that momentum going.
The last thing anyone wants is a let down after the Bye Week and a big division win. The Silver and Black got two weeks to prepare for this game. They should come out executing at that level. They should also come out fired up to face Gruden’s former team on Sunday Night.