Since the Raiders shocked the league by ending the Chiefs’ undefeated streak, many questions abound each team. Heading into Sunday’s tilt in Vegas, the division and possible playoff seeding hover above this game. The Raiders, picked by few, keep playing inspired football, stand 60 minutes away from 7-3, and a tiebreaker. Meanwhile, the defending champions could hold an insurmountable division lead at 9-1.
Since the Raiders hung 40 on the Chiefs at Arrowhead, each team veered in their own direction. The Chiefs added RB Le’Veon Bell. Although the former Jet accounted for only twenty touches in his first three-game, knows that he will see that number increase. The Raiders have coverage issues with dynamic backs and tight ends. On the other hand, the Silver and Back underwent a metamorphosis of sorts. Instead of relying on Derek Carr to pull the occasional rabbit from the hat, the Raiders embraces a bully persona. The offense battered defenses with long, run-heavy drives that sapped their strength and break their will. After the victory, the Raiders went on a 3-1 tear, behind a strong run game. The mood and mindset look different. Even Derek Carr, the target of unhappy fans, started to make plays with his legs. More importantly, he ventured into cold weather, emerging victorious.
The Chiefs roll into Las Vegas after a bye. When Andy Reid-led teams play after a bye:18-3. Reid lives for those two weeks to scheme and digs into the film. Add in Le’Veon Bell, the Chiefs will look to start hot. Envision a mix of practical and aggressive. Underneath, Edwards-Helaire and Bell can operate in space. Over the top, same as it ever was. Look for the Chiefs to attack the Raiders secondary with deep passes. However, will Mahomes have time? The team placed OT Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher on the COVID list. Paul Guenther blitzed frequently last Sunday, does he roll the dice? Granted, the Broncos, in no way, shape, or form, resemble Kansas City. Yet, dialing up pressure when your front four can’t get home on their own does not feel like a bad idea.
If the Raiders pull off the season sweep, this changes the AFC West dynamic. No longer will Kansas City possess the iron grip on the division. Their unbeatable aura fell earlier in the year. The Raiders, by virtue of a victory, would firmly settle into playoff position. With games versus the Colts and Dolphins ahead, stacking this victory could mean a great deal in December. Yet, they have the most important divisional game in years, in Vegas.