As the Raiders prepare to face the Chiefs tonight, we prepare you for what to expect. To do that, we spoke with Joel Thorman of SB Nation Chiefs blog, Arrowhead Pride. He gave us some of his insight into the team the Raiders will face tonight and how they might attack them
1. How have Zach Fulton and Cameron Erving performed at center and guard in place of Mitch Morse and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif respectively?
Overall, they've done OK. If you're going to be down two starting linemen, you're going to be hurting a little bit. Zach Fulton has been the backup center before so the Chiefs knew what they were getting with him and that's some consistency. He did have a bad snap last week but that's the first one I remember this season. As for Erving, he's much rougher around the edges. The Chiefs traded for him shortly before the season and said they saw him as a tackle so of course the first thing they do is throw him in at guard. Ideally, they hope he can back up at multiple positions so I suppose it's good they got a look at him. The Chiefs are ready for their starters to get back to full strength though. The Chiefs have played a lot of good defensive fronts this year.
2. If there's a weakness on this Chiefs team, what is it?
Pressure Alex Smith, make him throw outside the numbers and don't let Travis Kelce beat you. That's what a lot of teams who try to beat the Chiefs end up doing and it's what the Steelers did last week. Travis Kelce didn't do much, Alex Smith was pressured quickly so Tyreek Hill's deep ball wasn't there and the Steelers got ahead early which helped negate Kareem Hunt (whom they stopped anyway). The blueprint has to start with confusing Alex Smith pre-snap and making him change his mind on the fly. He's at his best when he knows what you're going to do and he has his progressions clearly defined.
3. What has possessed Alex Smith? How is he doing this?
If you go look at the numbers, it's really not that unusual for Alex Smith. He's had a bunch of one or two touchdown and no interception games. He doesn't throw many picks anyway. He's on an uptick in touchdowns but at least a couple of those have been those shovel passes, too. He is going deep a little more often (not a ton) but he's actually completing those deep passes this time around. That's the difference right there, the success of his game, not necessarily his approach. We saw 2016 Alex Smith last week, though. The question is whether the first five weeks were fluky or if he can return to MVP Alex Smith.
4. So, yeah, Kareem Hunt. I'm not sure I have a question here. WTF is a question, right?
A shifty back who can catch the ball out of the backfield and has deceptive speed? That's an Andy Reid back. The Chiefs kept touting his contact balance this offseason. I'll be honest, I didn't know what meant until you see him play. He's very balanced and bounces off tackles unless you're wrapping up. Even dodging tackles or falling one way adds a couple yards onto each run and those add up. His speed is one thing we weren't prepared for. He doesn't have Jamaal Charles speed where he darts through the hole but once he hits the open field he's just faster than you would expect. He's a competent back overall. Considering the Chiefs were going to start Spencer Ware this season before he got hurt, it's a surprise he's this good.
5. So, whaddya think, bloodbath? Miracle?
I'm not sure what to think. The Thursday night games never go as we expect. The Chiefs are coming off a bad loss but I like the way their quarterback has been playing overall this season and I like their head coach better than Oakland's. For that reason, I'm picking the Chiefs. However, picking the road team on a short week isn't easy. I'm really not sure what to expect but I do think the Chiefs get back on track offensively - not so much defensively - and win the game, 30-26.
To see my answers to his questions, click here.