Las Vegas Raiders fans don’t like being reminded of the team’s historical struggles in Kansas City. That said, there’s a couple of ways they might be able to get a win in Week 5.
There’s no other way to spin it but the fact is this Sunday’s matchup at Arrowhead Stadium may end up defining the Raiders’ season. There are legitimate concerns about whether the Silver and Black’s defense can get it together after struggling mightily so far. Then, we have the elephant in the room, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and his horrible play in Kansas City, which has led to victory alluding him. A blowout might not be out of the question this Sunday but not all is lost for Las Vegas.
In fact, the Raiders have two offensive weapons that will have to be used often to have a chance. Those two are star running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller.
The Raiders Must Look to Jacobs and Waller Often and Early
Pro Football Focus recently pointed out that Waller and Jacobs fared extremely well in last year’s matchups with the Chiefs. Waller was graded at 88.5 and Jacobs received an 83.0 grade for those games. Both are relatively healthy so there is no reason for Carr and head coach Jon Gruden to go to these two.
As Waller has shown this year, his size and speed make him an incredibly tough matchup. Too fast for linebackers and bigger as well as stronger for most defensive backs. Even Patriots Bill Belichick said this season that Waller is someone you have to account for.
Jacobs for his part has seen his carries drop considerably each game. In the team’s first four games, Jacobs has had 25, 27, 16, and 15 carriers, respectively. Gruden has to get Jacobs going again in this game, especially if Henry Ruggs III can’t play or is severely limited. The injuries to the Raiders offensive line have no doubt hindered the running game and it won’t get easier versus the Chiefs. On a side note, the Chiefs rushing defense is giving up 5.3 rushing yards per game so far this year.
Can The Chiefs Stop These Two?
The Chiefs led by Andy Reid make adjustments as good as anyone in the NFL and they too know that Jacobs and Waller are key. It’s possible that they force Carr to beat them which would mean Jacobs might be able to feast. Reid’s defense has only given up four passing touchdowns this year, and have notched five interceptions. It will be tough for Carr no doubt but he will have to look to Waller, his safety blanket.
In fact, Waller already has 40 targets this year, last year he had 117 total, he’s on track to possibly top that. Here in the early going, the Raiders tight end already has three broken tackles and has 134 yards after catch. As a team, the Chiefs are giving up 11.1 yards a reception and have 37 missed tackles recorded against them.
The Chiefs are the best team but that does not mean they do not have any flaws. With so much focus on Carr, and rightfully so, the Raiders will have to rely on their two stars if they want to escape Arrowhead with a win.
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*Top Photo: Bobby Ellis/Getty Images