As the Raiders head to Arrowhead Stadium to play their final match of the season against the Chiefs, let’s take a look at three things to watch in this 2018 finale:
Raiders Relish Spoiler Role
The Raiders aren’t going to the playoffs this season and the Chiefs are headed there no matter the outcome of Sunday’s game. However, the Raiders have a huge chance to shake up the AFC playoff seeding with an upset on the road. Assuming the Los Angeles Chargers beat Denver on Sunday, a Raiders win in Kansas City would drop the Chiefs from the #1 seed to the #5 seed. This drop not only leaves the Chiefs without an elusive bye week, but they most likely will play all of their remaining playoff games on the road. The hate between the Raiders and Chiefs is real, and Raiders head coach Jon Gruden will no doubt be emphasizing these points to potentially spoil Kansas City’s season.
Limiting Pat Mahomes
We say limit because no defense this year has really been able to stop the Chiefs MVP candidate quarterback. In just his first season as a starter, Mahomes has thrown a ridiculous 48 touchdowns and almost 5,000 yards passing. In their first matchup of the season, Mahomes was uncharacteristically off on a number of throws, yet he still threw four touchdowns, no interceptions, and nearly 300 yards passing. Not having Kareem Hunt in the Chiefs offense has changed this up a bit, but Mahomes is still the centerpiece of the offense and with weapons like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, they are a threat to take it to paydirt each and every snap.
Consistency Up Front
Last week, the Raiders offensive line played their best game of the season. Elite Broncos pass rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb were held without a sack, while Doug Martin had his first 100-yard game on the ground since 2015. It was the perfect game plan against the Broncos defense. The Chiefs aren’t proficient on defense, but given their electrifying offense, the Raiders are going to need to score at least 30 points just to have a puncher’s chance on Sunday. This will all start up front with the O-Line. If they can establish the ground game and limit the Chiefs time of possession on offense, then maybe the Raiders will indeed play spoilers, springboarding them into the 2019 season.