Closer now. The Raiders are at Arrowhead Stadium warming up to face the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football in probably the biggest game of the NFL season so far.
The AFC West is at stake here. And perhaps a lot more. The Raiders sit atop the division at 10-2, but should they lose to the Chiefs, they would be tied. That would also be a sweep by the Chiefs which would knock the Raiders out of their current number one see in the AFC and into 5th seed as a wildcard. So, yeah, this is big.
Not to mention, these two teams are so similar in how they have gotten to this point, it’s crazy. The main areas that have factored into their records are their turnover ratios. The Chiefs lead the league with a +14 turnover ratio, while the Raiders are third with a +12.
That ball security, plus the ability to make key plays late in games has these two teams tied atop the league with 6 wins after trailing by at least a touchdown. There are a lot more similarities that will factor into the outcome of this game however, and it’s why they match-up so well.
As far as strength v strength, it’s the Raiders pass blocking versus the Chiefs’ pass rush. For precedence, you need only look back to last week when the Raiders shut out the Bills second leading pass rush. If they can do the same against the likes of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, that could be key.
Last meeting, the Chiefs dominated the Raiders on the ground. Spencer Ware had a career day, and the Raiders were stuck in cement. There is no difference for the Raiders from a run defense standpoint. They are as weak as ever, having given up 212 yards on the ground to the Bills’ league best rushing attack last week.
Where the difference comes is on the Raiders’ side of the ball. They didn’t have Latavius Murray in their last meeting, who was out with a toe injury. The Raiders 7th ranked rush offense isn’t the same without him. He is currently third in the NFL with 11 rushing touchdowns.
And of course there’s always the threat Travis Kelce represents. He has had over 100 yards receiving the past three weeks, including 140 yards last week against the Falcons.
Where the Raiders should win their match-ups is through the air. Providing Derek Carr is able to take care of the ball better than Matt Ryan did last week -- when he threw two picks returned for scores to Eric Berry – he should be able to move the ball through the air against the Chiefs’ 22 ranked pass defense.
Though the Raiders overall have among the fewest sacks in the league (21.0), Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin have been on fire lately. Both are on sack streaks – Mack has a sack in seven consecutive games and Irvin in three consecutive. Mack has also ended the Raiders last two games with strip sacks.
They go against a Chiefs line that has given up 29 sacks this season. When the Chiefs played the Broncos two weeks ago, Miller had 3.0 sacks. The Chiefs needed overtime to pull out the win.
Couple other important details:
Game viewing details:
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City MO
Game time: Thursday, December 8, 5:25pm Pacific (8:25 pm ET)
TV channel: NFL Network
Radio: 95.7 The Game, 98.5 KFOX (Greg Papa, Tom Flores) | Full listings
Match-up history: Chiefs lead series 58-51-2, Streak - Chiefs 4-straight. Last loss 2014.
Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Heather Cox
Enemy blog: Arrowhead Pride
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