We here at Silver & Black Pride are going through the Raiders 2018 opponents and taking a look at where each team stands going into the new season. Oakland will have to wait a long time into the season before finally facing the Chiefs because their first match up isn’t until Week 13 and then they face a second time to finish the season Week 17.
The Chiefs are the reigning AFC West champions after they finished the 2017 season 10-6. Their playoff run ended without a win again though because of their 1st round playoff defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Titans 22-21 in Arrowhead. They are a talented team but promise to look quite a bit different in 2018 after trading away QB Alex Smith to hand the keys to last year’s 1st round selection Patrick Mahomes.
Key Departures: Alex Smith, Marcus Peters, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Ron Parker, Jeremy Maclin
Key Additions: Sammy Watkins, Kendall Fuller, David Amerson, Xavier Williams, Anthony Hitchens, Breeland Speaks, Ben Grubs, Jace Amaro
2018 NFL.com Power Rankings: #17
2017 Total Offense: 5th, 6th in points per game with 25.9
2018 Total Defense: 28th, 18th in points per game with 21.2
Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins Vs. Raiders secondary
Oakland’s secondary has it’s hands full here. Tyreek Hill has been an absolute menace with his speed and moves in the open field even without a complementary wide receiver opposite him. Now he has Sammy Watkins on the other side who has speed and excellent hands himself that will make it even harder to cover over the top of Hill. There will be a lot asked of Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin in keeping those two in check, but the real test will be how well Karl Joseph handles his duties on the back end because if either one gets behind him they have the talent to cash in on their big play opportunities.
Chiefs outside pass rush Vs. Raiders tackles
Donald Penn has played very well protecting Derek Carr’s blind spot so he knows what he is walking into against KC’s great pass rush, it’s the other side that is the bigger concern. We don’t yet know the starter between rookies Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker or veteran Breno Giacomini, but they will be considered the weak spot opposite Penn until they prove otherwise. That means a good chance of facing off against Justin Houston who has stated he wants to attack the weakest link no matter what side of the line that is and Dee Ford isn’t a slouch either. The Raiders need their tackles to handle the Chiefs talented pass rush so Derek Carr can make them pay with his impressively revamped wide receiver corp.
Raiders pass rush Vs. Patrick Mahomes
The way to beat a rookie quarterback is to beat up the rookie quarterback. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes isn’t technically a rookie but it will be his first year starting after KC traded Raider killer Alex Smith to Washington. It will be up to Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and the rest of the Raiders defensive line to make Mahomes miserable all day for Oakland to win against the Chiefs. Jon Gruden and company knows that too, which is why they made it such a point to fortify their defensive line with draft picks of P.J. Hall, Arden Key, and Maurice Hurst.
Kansas City might be the most under rated team in the NFL.com’s power rankings, but it’s because of the uncertainty of having a first year starter at quarterback in Patrick Mahomes. If you believe the Chiefs faithful he is the next Joe Montana, but the rest of the NFL world is waiting til they see him on the field before casting judgment. One thing is for sure though, how well he does will dictate how well the Chiefs do this season and therefore how well the Raiders do against them.
Though the Chiefs are a talented team, the Raiders are built pretty well on paper to match up against them. They have what should be a strong pass rush, big bodies to clog up the middle against RB Kareem Hunt and quick receivers to combat the Chiefs strongest point on defense which is their pass rush. Throughout the years these two rivals have consistently had great battles against each other, 2018 looks like it will continue that tradition.