It’s Chiefs week! The Oakland Raiders renew what has been a one-sided rivalry as of late with the Kansas City Chiefs. Let’s be honest with ourselves, the only chance the Raiders have on Sunday is the power of prayer.
The Chiefs come into this game burning up scoreboards. Patrick Mahomes in his second year in the league first as a starter has taken the league by storm. He leads the league in passing touchdowns and is among the top 5 in QBR, passing yards, completion percentage, and rushing yards. The Chiefs have at least one skill position player being mentioned in the top ten of every offensive statistical category.
Defensively, the Chiefs aren’t good. Their offense is completely masking a horrendous defense which ranks near the bottom of the league in points allowed (294), have given up the most amount of yards in the air (3269), are surrendering 5.0 yards per carry on the ground, and have allowed 13 rushing touchdowns.
While anyone who watches football gives the Raiders very little consideration in this contest against the division leading Chiefs, here are some key matchups to watch.
Gareon Conley vs Tyreek Hill
Conley has shaken the bum rap, and emerged from Gruden and Guenther’s doghouse to blanket wide receivers and make plays against the pass. Hill comes in as the third leading wide receiver in yards and tied for the lead with 11 receiving touchdowns. Conley has only given up two touchdowns all season and the island is open for prisoners.
Guenther’s Rotation vs Travis Kelce
It could take a team effort to stop or even slow down Kelce who is arguably the best tight end in the NFL. Guenther rotates his safeties a bit, so any of them could be used to defend Kelce on any given play. You can bet linebackers Tahir Whitehead, Marquel Lee, and Nicholas Morrow will all have their turn as well. You may even see a corner on him from time to time if he lines up out wide. They haven’t been able to stop even mediocre tight ends, so just throw the kitchen sink at Kelce and hope for the best.
Rookie tackles vs Chiefs pass rush
Chris Jones and Dee Ford are tied for 10th in the league with 9.0 sacks apiece. Allen Bailey (6.0) and Justin Houston (4.0) add another 10.0 sacks between them. Derek Carr has been sacked 35 times and lost 200 yards in large part to the struggles with rookie tackles Brandon Parker and Kolton Miller. This line has been inconsistent to say the least, as a whole this unit most work together to allow Carr to have a chance.
Linebackers vs Patrick Mahomes
I expect what happens to this group to be unbecoming of NFL-caliber talent. Tahir Whitehead is among the league’s best tacklers yet worst pass defenders. I expect Nicholas Morrow to have his attention focused on Travis Kelce. Mahomes is a dual threat quarterback which will require great discipline from the linebackers and we haven’t seen a lot of that this season.
Hidden Nugget: Mahomes has fumbled 7 times this season, he has been fortunate to recover 5 of them, should the Raiders be able to get to him he is prone to the strip sack.
Jared Cook vs Eric Berry
This one will depend on whether Berry is good to go to make his 2018 debut. It’s a rare strength vs strength match-up as the best of the bads lock horns for 60 minutes.
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Editor’s note: Levi Damien contributed to this article.