Today, the Raiders fought honorably. The Raiders fought nobly. And the Raiders lost. The 15.5 point spread proved to be folly, as the Raiders lost by just seven points. There was a lot that went wrong today, but this looks like a team giving their all, especially their best players.
1) Patrick Mahomes III
Today, Raider fans got an up close and personal look at why Mahomes is one of the front-runners for the NFL MVP this season. He wasn’t at his most accurate, going 23/38, but he threw for 295 yards and four touchdown passes. Two of those were to Travis Kelce. Mahomes fired balls into tight windows all day and his arm strength combined with his quick release is a skillset we haven’t seen on this level since Dan Marino. Combine that with his legs and athleticism and it’s easy to see why Mahomes is carving teams up this year. He was also KC’s leading rusher with 52 yards on the ground. Even if Mahomes doesn’t win the MVP this year because of Drew Brees, he will win a few in his career.
2) Derek Carr
Despite Patrick Mahomes’ eye-popping peformance, the numbers say that Carr was actually the better quarterback today. He was 29/38 for 285 yards and three touchdowns despite being sacked three times. To say that Carr has few weapons would be something of an understatement, as his major targets are the ancient Jordy Nelson and Jared Cook, who I’ll get to shortly. Carr just doesn’t have a lot of help when it comes to his receivers, but he made do anyway, turning Marcell Ateman into a serious threat.
Despite the incompetence of nearly everyone around him, Derek Carr is still performing at an elite level. There is little question in my mind that he is the right man for the job going forward and getting rid of him would be a severe mistake.
3) Travis Kelce
The Chiefs were without a few starting weapons too, missing Sammy Watkins, and the Raiders elected to triple-cover Tyreek Hill. So the Chiefs made it a priority to go to Kelce early and often, and it paid off.
Kelce notched new career highs in receptions and yards, catching 12 passes for 168 yards and two scores. The Raiders don’t really have anyone who can cover him, and neither do most teams. Kelce’s had an outstanding career and this game may stick out above the others.
4) Jared Cook
In much the same way Oakland couldn’t handle Kelce, the Chiefs had no answer for Jared Cook. He caught seven passes for an even 100 yards and a touchdown. Cook is on pace for the best season of his career, and has already matched his career high in touchdown catches with five. I am sure he will get a few more before the season is over.
1) Raiders running backs
Let me specify here, I mean this in the sense of ball security only. The Raiders rushed as a team for 171 yards, and Jalen Richard personally rushed for 95 of them. However, Richard, Doug Martin and Deandre Washington each lost a fumble, ending promising Raider drives. That was an absolute killer considering this game was so close.
2) Tyreek Hill
With Sammy Watkins out, the Chiefs needed as much as they could get from their star wide receiver. He gave them next to nothing, catching only one pass for 13 yards. He rushed twice for 37, but Mahomes couldn’t connect with him consistently because the Raiders defense focused on him all game long and took him away as an option. A guy as talented as Hill should be able to separate from the Raider secondary without this much trouble.
3) Johnny Townsend
The Raiders miraculously only punted twice in this game, but Townsend averaged 30 yards a punt. For those of you scoring at home, that is Very Bad. In a more defensively-minded game, the foibles of Townsend could have had serious field position ramifications for the Raiders. If Townsend doesn’t show improvement down the stretch, it’s hard to see him back on this team next year.
4) Kareem Hunt
Perhaps you’ve heard, but Kareem Hunt is unemployed. Hunt led the NFL in rushing last year with over 1,300 yards, but he pissed away his job with the Chiefs by getting into a fight with a woman at a hotel. He’s a guy who has all the talent in the world but couldn’t exhibit an ounce of self-control when it was important to do so. This would be a black eye on the Chiefs organization, but they currently willfully employ Tyreek Hill who beat up his pregnant girlfriend in college so clearly they don’t care about this sort of thing. It remains to be seen whether Hunt will play football again, but Reuben Foster just got signed too so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Kareem Hunt was ostensibly fired because he lied to the Chiefs, but he’s a loser because he beat up a girl.