The Oakland Raiders shut down the noise. Everyone already counted the Raiders out. The team has one of the most brutal schedules in the history of the NFL. In what seems like a yearly tradition now, Oakland will yet again give up a home game to travel to London, setting up a period of five games away from home. In fact, after next week, the team won’t play at the Coliseum again until Week 9 when they host the Detroit Lions.
They come into another huge divisional game this week versus the Kansas City Chiefs.
Don’t Sleep on the Oakland Raiders versus the Kansas City Chiefs
Coming Off a Huge Win
The Raiders knew they needed to start the season off strong to gain some momentum before they start their odyssey Week 3. Despite all the noise relating to a receiver who will not be named, Oakland came together and put up an impressive performance against the Denver Broncos.
It was a tone-setting game, where Derek Carr operated the offense like a virtuoso, completing 85% of his passes. Their first-round rookies Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram made play after play on defense, holding Denver without a touchdown until well into the fourth quarter. And of course, Josh Jacobs welcomed himself into the league, racking up over 100 yards from scrimmage and scoring two touchdowns.
It was a totally different look from last year’s Monday Night meltdown game. A game that lays an excellent foundation for the rest of the season.
The Chiefs are Battered
Still, the Kansas City Chiefs are undoubtedly the team to beat. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes picked up right where he left off, throwing for over 300 yards passing – in the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They went on to win the game 40 to 26 but, they didn’t look invincible and will come into week two a bit battered.
Controversial, yet talented wide receiver Tyreek Hill hurt his shoulder and will miss at least a few games. Mahomes also hurt his ankle, and though he finished the game, he wasn’t quite himself for the rest of the game. After looking like he might break the record for most passing yards in a game at halftime, Mahomes only threw for 65 yards in the second half.
Sure, the Chiefs were up in the second half, but it is still something to watch moving forward. So far, the team claims that he is fine, and there is no way he misses any time. Still, he seemed obviously affected by the injury and wasn’t able to step into his throws. He’ll still be good, but without Hill, and with Mahomes not at 100%, it should even the playing field on offense.
A New Look Raiders
Oakland debuted an offense that was almost entirely overturned. One of the few returning players was Carr, who finally gets to play in the same offense for a second year. Jon Gruden put together a spectacular game plan that boasted a balanced offense that controlled the ball to tire out the Vic Fangio-led defense. When Carr passed, he got the ball out quickly to nullify the pass rush of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
A week after the Chiefs let a sixth-round rookie complete 22 of 25 passes in his first NFL action, the Chiefs face Carr, who completed 22 of 26 passes during week one. Carr might not have a pass hit the ground all day.
And the offense will probably look different yet again Week 2. Oakland will probably still try to control the ball and keep Mahomes on the sidelines, but it won’t be as easy as it was against the statuesque Joe Flacco. Even an injured Mahomes will keep the Raiders defense on their toes, and Sammy Watkins looked like a perfect replacement for Hill, racking up almost 200 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Kansas City’s pass rush and secondary are nowhere near as good as Denver’s, meaning that Gruden will be able to open up the offense, and chuck it down the field a lot easier. Expect a lot less dump-off passes, and a lot more downfield throws to Tyrell Williams, and athletic tight end Darren Waller. Don’t be surprised if the speedster J.J. Nelson makes an appearance as well.
A big question mark for the game is once again the Oakland secondary. Abram was flying around the field laying the boom on opposing players, but he also inadvertently hurt Conley, landing him in a stretcher with a neck injury. After he left, Emmanuel Sanders woke up, helping give the Broncos some hope late in the game. It looks like Conley is good to go, but the same can’t be said for Abram.
To make matters worse, news broke after the game that Abram tore his labrum in the first quarter of the game. Now, the promising young safety is being put on injured reserve after undergoing surgery. Luckily, Conley is practicing this week and is on track to play. But, the Silver and Black will have to press forward without the rookie.
It’s also safe to wonder how good the Raiders defense really is. The team put up three sacks and harassed Flacco all game. Will they be able to do the same to the Chiefs? They very well could. The Jaguars didn’t register any sacks, but Mahomes was under pressure all game. If Oakland can build off their impressive performance, they may start getting more respect around the league.
Could this whole off season drama have actually brought the team closer together? This week will be a critical game before a grueling road trip that could give the team confidence to pull through some tough games in the coming months.