Tomorrow, the Las Vegas Raiders will head into Arrowhead Stadium, looking to take another victory lap. Last year, Las Vegas won in Kansas City for what felt like the first time in forever.
Unfortunately, that 2020 team was just as inconsistent as this year’s Raiders team. The Chiefs enter 8-4 and atop the division, but a win would put the Raiders just one game behind them with four weeks remaining. Let’s look at three things the Raiders must do to earn a win on Sunday.
No. 1 Don’t Turn The Ball Over
In the first meeting of the year between these two teams, Kansas City entered the game with the worst turnover rate in the league. The Chiefs then proceeded to give the Raiders’ offense fits, and dominated the game.
Las Vegas is going to have to learn from that, and be much smarter this time around. The first matchup was actually a close game until the Raiders forgot how to play football. Derek Carr is going to have to have an effective game, and he’s going to have to manage between playing aggressive and putting points on the board while also not making dumb mistakes that turn the ball over. Carr has had plenty of successful games this year in which he’s done both of those, so for the Raiders’ sake, he’ll need to have another one this week.
No. 2 Contain Travis Kelce
The first matchup between these two squads might as well have been named the Travis Kelce show. Kelce had his best statistical game of the year in Vegas, tallying 119 yards on eight receptions, good enough for an astonishing 24.8 yards per reception.
It seems like it’s been forever since the Raiders were able to successfully defend against a tight end. Kelce has been one of those tight ends that’s terrorized the Raiders’ defense in recent years, and he’s also one of Patrick Mahomes’ favorite targets. Getting the ball to Kelce worked well for Kansas City in the first matchup, so expect them to look Kelce’s way early on Sunday.
No. 3 Get To The Quarterback
In Week 10, the Chiefs were able to dominate the game because of their pass protection. The Raiders’ pass rush has been solid throughout the year, but they weren’t as effective against the Chiefs.
When Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue can get to the quarterback, the defense is at its best as a whole. That will be important in tomorrow’s matchup. If the pass rush is good, the secondary will have a lot less time to cover, and it will be much harder for Mahomes to create plays on the fly, which has killed the Raiders in recent years. Whoever wins this battle could very well win the game on Sunday.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images