Week 5 will present the Las Vegas Raiders with arguably their toughest matchup in 2020. They will face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
What are the Raiders up to in Week 5?
As good as the Chiefs were last year, they’re even better this year, which is a scary thought for opposing teams. The offense has become more dynamic with the addition of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Also, the chemistry between Mahomes and his receivers has continued to grow.
The Chiefs have scored the ninth most points in the league with 117 and will expand that if the Raiders defense disappoints as it has in the past two games. If the Raiders want to have a chance at winning, these three defensive players must help contain the Chiefs offense.
Despite the disappointing start to the season, Maxx Crosby has come on strong as of late with three sacks in the past two games. Against the New England Patriots, the sophomore defensive end registered two sacks to go along with two pressures. Against the Buffalo Bills, he was the only Raiders player to sack quarterback Josh Allen. Currently, the Raiders rank 29th in the NFL with only four sacks.
Moreover, the Raiders have only blitzed on 24.5% of their defensive plays, according to The Athletic. Crosby will have his hands full against highly regarded right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. According to Pro Football Focus, Schwartz has a pass-blocking efficiency of 97.3 but has allowed three sacks and seven pressures this season. With defensive tackle Maurice Hurst currently on the reserve/COVID list, Crosby will need to display his strength and endless motor for the defense to stand a chance against Mahomes.
— Chris Reed (@ChrisReed_NFL) September 27, 2020
The Raiders paid Cory Littleton a lot of money this past offseason. They hoped he would shore up the ill-fated linebacker position. Alas, Littleton has looked small and opposing teams have pushed him around at times.
With Nick Kwiatkoski returning from injury, Littleton should play better than he has. According to PFF, Littleton has allowed a passer rating of 96.4 this season. On Sunday, he will have the task of defending Travis Kelce, who leads all tight ends in receiving yards with 297 and is only second to Darren Waller in receptions and targets.
“Cory is obviously new in the system, so he’s been a little hot and cold,” said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. “I showed him some plays where he has done really good and some plays that he’s not done so good. He’s aware of the things he needs to clean up. Those are things that we kind of put him in position this week in practice to clean those things up.”
If Littleton can contain Kelce, The Raiders will have an easier time focusing on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman.
By solely lining up on the left side of the field, Trayvon Mullen isn’t always facing other teams’ best wideouts. Still, the Clemson standout has taken the next step on the road to becoming an elite cornerback in the NFL. This season, Mullen has five pass breakups, jammed up receivers at the line of scrimmage, and forced them to go in unfavorable directions.
Raiders analysis: Trayvon Mullen could be a stalwart at left cornerback
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) October 8, 2020
Because Hill lines up all over the field, Mullen won’t always face off against him. When Hill lines up in the slot, expect Mullen to guard Watkins on the outside. If Guenther decides to use a heavy dose of man defense, Mullen should be able to display his skills against a stellar Chiefs offense.
Is there a silver lining for the Raiders?
The Chiefs have a complete offense, and the Raiders have a shaky defense. In all likelihood, the Chiefs will steamroll the Raiders, but the hope is that the defense performs above expectations, key players grow into their role, and the defense gets it together before the middle of the season.
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Top Photo: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP Pool