After two crushing losses, the Chiefs still have a chance to clinch the AFC’s number one seed this Sunday against their longtime rival Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are ready to play spoiler. As Andy Reid said earlier this week, the Chiefs know what they need to do to take care of business this week. “My message to the team is to go play,” Reid mentioned. “Let your personalities show and go play. I think that is the most important thing. If you get caught up in everything, that becomes an issue and then you’re not yourself.” If the Chiefs take care of things, they will have the luxury of playing at Arrowhead throughout the entire postseason. Let’s get to this Chiefs-Raiders preview.
Lean On Me
As great as it was to see Damien Williams get going last week, the Chiefs rushing offense wasn’t good enough to beat the Seahawks last week. Instead, let Patrick Mahomes try and lead you down the field more. During one drive last week, Mahomes took the Chiefs offense down the field quickly, kicking and screaming. Mahomes was hitting on throw after throw, against pretty good coverage from the Seahawks. Even back in the first meeting with Oakland this season, the Raiders were doing all they could to stop Mahomes. He basically lifted the team to a win by himself, escaping pressure and throwing bullets right through defender’s hands. The more times Mahomes gets the chance to let it fly, the chances are more likely that the offense is in a better rhythm.
A Dependable Carr
Derek Carr does not have the eye-popping numbers that other signal callers have this season. But, he has quietly played respectably throughout the second half of this season. Carr has not thrown an interception since Week 5, which shows that he has been making good decisions when passing.
Going back to that first matchup in Oakland, Carr was able to beat the Chiefs in any part of the field. Whether it was outside, over the middle or short, the Chiefs blew coverages a good share of the time. Carr had three touchdowns and led the Raiders offense well in that game. If it wasn’t for the trifecta of fumbles by the Oakland offense, who knows if the Chiefs would have still beaten the Raiders in that contest.
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Bring the Heat
On the flip side of the Raiders passing game, we must look towards the Chiefs pass rush. If Kansas City can jump out to an early lead, then the defense could be in for a whopping to put on Carr. Oakland has allowed the fifth-most sacks (49) in the league. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have produced that same number in sacks. Rushing the passer has been arguably the best part of the Chiefs defense.
Last week, Chris Jones set a new NFL record for recording a sack for an eleventh straight game. There’s also been added talk about Xavier Williams this week. He doesn’t register many sacks, but he could be more motivated this week. The hometown KC kid gets his first chance as a member of the Chiefs to play against this rival at Arrowhead Stadium. Finally, you can’t rule out the ability of Dee Ford and Justin Houston in division contests.
Matchup to Watch: Chiefs Rushing Offense vs. Raiders Run Defense
The Chiefs were able to freeze the Raiders front in the first matchup by misdirection, reverse fakes and rushing outside the tackles. Oakland has allowed at least 100 rushing yards in eight of their nine games after their bye week. Look for the Chiefs to force the Raiders to have to make reads on outside zone runs and possible reverses.
The Chiefs have a few offensive players that could set historic marks in this game. First, Mahomes has a chance to become the youngest quarterback since Dan Marino to throw for at least 5,000 yards and also he could become the youngest quarterback to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season. Second, Travis Kelce is a mere 54 receiving yards away for setting the record for receiving yards in a single season by a tight end. Lastly, Tyreek Hill is 14 yards away from becoming the Chiefs all-time leader in receiving yards for a single season. It’s quite possible that both Tyreek and Kelce finish as the top two all time, in the same season.
We mentioned how Derek Carr has been dependable as of late. But it’s safe to say, he has struggled at Arrowhead. In his career, he has averaged just 186 passing yards per game at KC. Also, he owns a touchdown to interception ratio of 3:3, has an average quarterback rating of just 62.8 and is 0-4 all-time at Arrowhead.
Thank you for reading. Enjoy this 2018 regular-season finale, preceding what will hopefully be a long playoff run for the Chiefs. You can follow along at Full Press Coverage, during the entirety of the NFL post-season.