The reigning world champions host the Raiders in a key AFC West division matchup. Chiefs vs Raiders is always a marquee matchup for fans but on the field, the rivalry has been one-sided as of late. How does Las Vegas go to Kansas City and pull off the upset?
After a great start to the season, the Raiders have had a disappointing two-week stretch. Losing two straight to the Bills and Patriots isn’t the problem, it’s how the Raiders lost those games. Now with Chiefs vs Raiders on tap for this Sunday in Kansas City, Las Vegas must find a way to get better if they plan on upending their high-powered division rival.
Penalties, turnovers, and unforced errors have made the last two weeks hard to swallow. It doesn’t get easier for the Raiders as they are set to face the Patrick Mahomes led Chiefs, who are riding a 13-game winning streak. The defending Super Bowl Champions have picked up right where they left off, starting the season 4-0. However, they have looked beatable at times and there are some things the Raiders can do to pull off the unlikely upset, as 12.5 point underdogs.
While fans consider the over 60-year old rivalry to be as hot as ever, when asked by our own Scott Gulbransen about it this week, Carr had a brutally honest response.
“Honestly, if we’re being honest, to make to a rivalry we have to win some games here,” Carr said. “They’ve had our number for a little bit and it kind of makes us mad. They don’t like us, we don’t like them. There’s not a lot of handshaking between the two. Never has been, never will be probably even though they’re friends on each side. But when you’re playing each other, Chiefs-Raiders, it’s not friendly. But, we have to make it a rivalry if we’re being honest. We have to go win some football games against them.”
Here’s a look at Chiefs vs Raiders key matchups and how Las Vegas can try and win what could be a huge statement game.
Linebackers Vs. Travis Kelce/Clyde Edwards-Helaire
It’s no secret that Travis Kelce has wrecked the Raiders over the years. In 12 Chiefs vs. Raiders games, he has 14.08 yards a catch and posted five touchdowns. The numbers don’t tell the whole story, as Kelce has amassed key first downs and clutch catches throughout his career vs the Raiders. The Chiefs also added tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire this off-season, who has sparked a better Chiefs running game and offers Mahomes another intermediate target in mismatch situations. The Raiders prepared for this during the off-season re-vamping their linebacker corps. Although Corey Littleton has underperformed so far in 2020, this Week 5 match-up could change Raider fan’s perspective immediately. Kelce and Edwards-Helaire will get their targets, but limiting them will be key to winning, and the Raiders will need to improve on their tackling and limit the big play.
Josh Jacobs and Co. Vs. Chiefs front 7
The Raiders go as far as Josh Jacobs takes them. He has been playing banged up and hasn’t had as much running room as he’s used to with a patchwork offensive line. However, the Raiders need a career afternoon from Jacobs to win this football game. If the Chiefs have a weakness, it’s their run defense. They are currently allowing 161.0 yards a game and they are giving up a league-worst 5.3 yards per carry. Jacobs has faced some stifling run defenses so far this year and is averaging a disappointing 3.6 yards per catch. The Raiders are hopeful they can get Jacobs humming this week, and exploit the Chiefs weaknesses. This will also result in the Raiders keeping Patrick Mahomes off the field, a major key to Chiefs vs. Raiders being a game Jon Gruden’s team can steal at Arrowhead.
In his last three games at Arrowhead, he (Derek Carr) has thrown six interceptions and fumbled the ball three times.
Derek Carr vs. Arrowhead Stadium
Derek Carr has some demons to exorcise inside Arrowhead Stadium. Carr is 0-6 in his career in Kansas City and has had nightmarish games there. A combination of things has caused this anemic record: bad teams, cold weather, and talented opponents. It all doesn’t matter. At some point to take the next step in his career, Derek Carr needs to beat the Kansas City Chiefs. One way for him to do this is to limit the turnovers. In his last three games at Arrowhead, he has thrown six interceptions and fumbled the ball three times. The good news for the Raiders and Carr is the weather will be perfect on Sunday and the Chiefs are coming off a short week. If there is a good time for an upset, the time is now.
Raiders banged up O-Line vs. Kansas City D-Line
The success of Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs Sunday relies on the Raiders 5 big guys upfront. The offensive line got off to a hot start in 2020 but has struggled the last two weeks. It’s normal for a banged-up unit to struggle, the Raiders are in desperate need of the return of Trent Brown. If he is unable to return this week, veterans Sam Young and Denzelle Good will see more action, hopefully improving on last week’s performance. The Raiders will need a great performance from their line, facing Frank Clark and Chris Jones. Chris Jones already has 3.5 sacks on the season, and the Raiders guard have struggled in back to back weeks. Look for that match-up to determine a lot in this game.
Raiders Keys to Victory
Leading into week 3, the Raiders had played very clean football. This script has shifted greatly in the last two games. The Raiders have had sloppy games top to bottom. The coaching adjustments haven’t been there, the execution hasn’t been there and most of all the discipline hasn’t been there. The Raiders have a lot that needs to go right to pull off the biggest upset of 2020 so far, but the three keys to victory in my opinion are 2nd half adjustments, the turnover battle, and the penalty battle.
2nd Half Adjustments
In week 3 first the Saints, the Raiders came out of the locker room fired up and ready to take a win in the 2nd half. Since then, they have been outscored 33-20 by the Patriots and Bills in the 2nd half, with 14 of the Raiders points coming when the game was out of reach. The 2nd half adjustments have just not been great. The Raiders are going up against one of the best coaches in the game in Andy Reid, and if the game is close at halftime, they need Jon Gruden in his bag. This game will not be one without an excellent coaching plan.
The Raiders have turned the ball over 5 times in the past 2 games, hence the 0-2 record. With a struggling defense, and a methotidical offensive game-plan the turnover battle is the biggest turning point in games. The Raiders have turned the ball over 5 times in the past 2 games, while only recording 1 turnover on defense, hence the 0-2 record. It can be argued the Raiders would have won the Bills games without turning the ball over, but the backbreaking fumbles solidified the outcome of the game. Against good teams in the NFL, you must protect the football. My key to this week 5 match-up is simple, if the Raiders win the turnover battle, they will pull it off.
As with turnovers, penalties generally play a major part in team records throughout the season. The Raiders did an awesome job in the first two weeks of playing disciplined football, but it’s gotten away from them for the past two weeks. The Raiders finished last week’s game with 7 penalties for 66 yards, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. A 50-yard touchdown, on a great play-design, was wasted, because of a simple illegal formation. Brain farts like that will need to be voided completely for the Raiders to turn this losing streak around.
Chiefs vs Raiders is a matchup both Raider Nation and Chiefs Kingdom look forward to twice per season. Although there is much history and drama between the teams, to truly reignite the rivalry, the Raiders need to make a statement and fly back to Las Vegas the victors.