Leading into the pivotal matchup against yet another AFC West foe, the Las Vegas Raiders face more adversity. Besides facing the defending Super Bowl champions, COVID-19 has made its way back through the Henderson facility, and it’s back with a vengeance.
With a large gash potentially taken out of the starting defense for the Sunday night prime time matchup, the Raiders are going to need to be strong, if not basically perfect, on offense. It won’t be any different for special teams either. Let’s take a look at three things the Raiders need to do to the Chiefs for the first time since 2012.
1. Raiders must keep the running game hot
The Raiders’ running game has produced in recent weeks, and that may be an understatement. Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker have looked almost like the tandem of Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson. Putting hyperbole aside, the running game has thrived despite the revolving door within the offensive line.
The Chiefs’ defense ranks 29th in yards on the ground with 138 yards per game and 15th in points. Meanwhile, the Silver and Black has averaged 191 yards per game in the last three weeks. That trend needs to continue for them to win.
2. Derek Carr and the passing game needs to step back up
If you look at Derek Carr’s stats in the last three weeks, you would think the passing game is struggling. A closer look shows drops by Darren Waller, Nelson Agholor and Henry Ruggs affected his stat line against the Broncos.
Had they caught some of those passes, ‘4’ could’ve had an extra 75 yards added to his name, as well as at least two touchdowns. Those mistakes cannot happen against the Chiefs. Just like in Arrowhead, the Raiders need to show out in the passing game to keep up with the offensive juggernaut on the other side.
3. Special Teams needs to stay effective
The Raiders special teams in Week 10 were impeccable and it must stay that way. Plays such as putting their opponents deep to start the game, and Hunter Renfrew’s almost touchdown, this has to continue. Although it is an often overlooked part of a game, the field position battle is crucial. Daniel Carlson, A.J. Cole, and the returners need to be on top of their game and win the field position battle. The Raiders have to win the special teams battle in primetime to ensure another AFC West win.
The “bulletin board material”, “bus gate” and all other outside noise leading into this game only adds to the atmosphere for two teams that have no love for one another. A Raiders win this Sunday will make a statement to the NFL, one that says their goal is to play the final game in Tampa Bay in February.
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Top Photo: Photo Credit: Jonathan Dyer/USA Today