The Las Vegas Raiders may have shamed the Kansas City Chiefs once, but can they do it once more in primetime? They’ll have to do just that if they want to tighten up the division and retain their position in the playoffs.
The Chiefs only loss this year (so far) was brought by the Raiders in Arrowhead in Week 5. The Raiders are already at a disadvantage for multiple reasons. Kansas City’s coming off a bye and they have an 18-3 record under those conditions with head coach Andy Reid. There are 11 defensive Raiders on the COVID/reserve list (with some eligible to play Sunday). Of course, the obvious issue is that the Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl Champions. Nonetheless, there’s no reason to lack faith in the Silver & Black, so here are three bold predictions for the matchup.
Raiders rush for 200+ yards…again
Through the first six games, second-year running back Josh Jacobs was averaging 3.4 yards a carry, which was less than ideal. In his last three games, Jacobs has come back to form and has averaged 4.6 yards. Devontae Booker has lightened the load for Jacobs and has rushed a healthy 304 yards on just 49 carries. Offensive line coach Tom Cable deserves credit as he’s had to work with just two starters for the last two weeks.
The Raiders will need to utilize the running game if they want to dominate time of possession. That was how they beat the Chiefs in Week 5 and they can do it again. Kansas City ranks 27th in total rushing yards allowed and tied for 29th in yards per carry. Vegas has rushed for over 200 yards in two of their last three games. As long as the ‘Hog Mollies’ hold their ground in the trenches, Jacobs and Booker will be looking to feast again.
The Defense makes a stand when needed
This might sound crazy, especially with the aforementioned Covid situation, but hear me out. Most players on the list are eligible to return as long as they tested negative through the week. The defense has been subpar for most of the season but they’ve had their moments. Last three games, the unit has forced seven turnovers and sacked the quarterback four times in the last two. The lack of practice will surely have a negative effect on the Raiders this week, but there’s hope.
Starting tackle Mitchell Schwartz will be out with a knee injury. Patrick Mahomes loves passing the ball no matter what and is averaging 36.2 attempts per game. The Raiders will be ready for this as they will look to repeat their second-half performance from their last matchup. In that game, they pressured Mahomes 22 times, sacked him three times, and held the offense to eight points in the second half.
Playing zone coverage along with a spy was very key to getting those results. They will likely role with that again and Schwartz being out can make it easier. While defensive end Clelin Ferrell will be out with Covid, expect David Irving to fill in and bring a decent level of pressure himself. With that said, it’s plausible that Vegas will make key plays on defense.
The Raiders pull off the sweep, winning by 10 points
When the Raiders took down the Chiefs, it was Mahomes’ first loss by more than seven points (they won by eight). That might not sound like much but if you watched the game, the Chiefs’ last touchdown was in a failed effort to make a comeback. If the Raiders can make the same stride they did on all cylinders, they have a very good chance of winning.
Derek Carr’s stats may not say it all but he’s playing the best football of his career. If the running game is working, expect Carr to go deep a few times and not turn the ball over. If so, Mahomes and company will be given too few opportunities to answer against a defense that hopefully won’t have to see the field much. Kansas City is 8-1 for a reason, but the Raiders have the tools to replicate their success.
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*Top Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer/USA TODAY Sports