Raiders Rivals: The Alex Smith Problem

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Flying to Kansas City remains the least of the Oakland Raiders problems. Chiefs’ QB Alex Smith poses a new set of headaches. When the most passionate fan looks at Smith’s 2017, they see various, peculiar aspects. Which version of Smith will show up? Why do Chiefs fans hold him personally responsible for their losing streak?

Facts
During his career, Smith owns a 9-2 record versus the Raiders. In addition, his 22:4 touchdowns to interception ratio screams cautious passing. Yet, if you look at the 8.21 yards per attempt, Smith will test the defenses with the intermediate routes, hoping for a missed tackle. Provided that Smith gets time to throw. The Raiders tallied only four sacks in the last four meeting with the Chiefs.

Mindset
No other divisional quarterback maintains calm like Alex Smith. Phillip Rivers cannot control his emotions. Whatever Denver employs at quarterback remains the hottest of messes. Smith reflects Andy Reid perfectly. His mental stability allows him to fight through rough patches and overcome them. As a result, the Raiders need to rattle him often. Getting in that backfield early will force Smith to abandon his progress and revert to his comfort zone: the checkdown. Selling out on blitzes may not hurt Oakland in those cases.

Job Security
Until Sunday’s 366-yard, four touchdown day versus the Jets, Chiefs fans began calling for Smith’s benching. They would prefer rookie Patrick Mahomes to guide the offense. If this appears familiar, remember the Niners forced Smith to the pine in favor of Kaepernick. Therefore, that thought must sit at the front of his mind. With that, every dropback could be his last as a Chief; Smith could press and force the ball into windows that his arm cannot accomplish.

Raider Plan of Attack
New coordinator John Pagano appears to be more Xs and Os driven than his predecessor is. Under those circumstances, the Raiders will throw the kitchen sink and Smith. Without a doubt, the second is the defensive weakness. Pressure up front reduces that flaw. Sending one or two more rushers leads to big plays. Moreover, Khalil Mack feasted off the Chiefs offensive line. We all remembered him throwing Eric Fisher away in October.

Ultimately, the Chiefs offense will depend on Alex Smith. The Oakland Raiders cannot allow him to become comfortable. With a playoff spot in reach, winning in Kansas City means too much. A victory gives the Raiders the all-important tiebreaker over the Chiefs.

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