This Monday night, the Las Vegas Raiders will head to the Midwest after finally picking up their first win of the year. Las Vegas, now 1-3, will face off against their division foe, the 3-1 Kansas City Chiefs. Throughout the last decade, the Chiefs have dominated this matchup. Still, this Raiders’ squad has a lot of talent, and they’ll come in with some confidence after picking up their first win. For the Silver and Black to win, though, they’ll need some key players to improve their form. Here are three players that must bounce back.
The Las Vegas Raiders really need Darren Waller to turn it around
It’s fair for Darren Waller to share some blame with Derek Carr for his early-season struggles. Still, Waller just hasn’t looked like his normal self. The offense as a whole has struggled, but Waller’s shaky start to the year hasn’t helped anything. Waller had a great game in Week 1, but since then, he’s been almost completely out of it. Waller has six catches for 46 yards in the last two games against the Tennessee Titans and the Broncos.
The attention the defense has paid him has helped open up opportunities for other receivers, like Mack Hollins. Still, when the ball does come his way, Waller has struggled to do anything with it. His hands look shaky, and in Week 3 in Tennessee he dropped three passes that would have been touchdowns. The Raiders are badly missing their force in the middle, and if they want to take another victory lap around Arrowhead, they’ll need a better performance from their tight end.
Can Chandler Jones pile up sacks vs. the Chiefs?
Chandler Jones didn’t necessarily have a bad game in Week 4, but his season, overall, has been a bit of a letdown. He’s played well on run defense, but his lack of pressure on the quarterback has been hurting this defense.
For many reasons, Kansas City has been an incredibly hard team to beat for the past couple of years. One of those reasons is their excellent game-planning on offense. The quickest way to disrupt that? Get in the backfield. When Jones was signed, Raiders’ fans were drooling thinking about the havoc the Jones-Maxx Crosby duo would wreak. So far, it just hasn’t been there. The best way for the Raiders to disrupt the Chiefs’ offense is to blow up the offensive line. That’s where Jones will need to come in.
What about Jayon Brown?
Kansas City currently boasts an impressive, young, two-headed monster at running back. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Isiah Pacheco have both been very impressive, and the Chiefs love to use them both in the run and pass game. The run game in particular will be an area in which the Raiders’ linebackers need to be sharp.
Last week, Denzel Perryman was forced to exit the game early with a concussion. In his place, we saw Jayon Brown get some reps. He did not look great. Brown looked decent in pass coverage, but his tackling efforts in the run game were poor. If Perryman isn’t 100 percent this Monday night, which is likely, Brown will see a lot of snaps once again. He’ll need to hold his spot down if the Raiders want to sneak out of Kansas City with a win.
*Top Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images