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Breaking Down the Opponent: Four keys to Raiders victory against the Chiefs

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Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs come to Oakland fresh off a season opening win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite the final score of 40-26 the Jaguars put up an admirable fight in their game last week. Offering the Raiders some tape by which they can study this year’s Chiefs team.

After giving up 17 points in the first quarter, the Jacksonville defense was able to tighten up and put pressure on Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. Super Bowl Champion Nick Foles was injured early in the game and rookie passer Gardner Minshew came in for him. The young QB had a stellar completion percentage going 22 for 25 and 2 touchdowns.

With Tyreek Hill out against the Raiders and Patrick Mahomes nursing an injured ankle—this game suddenly becomes more winnable, especially with the Chiefs coming into the Black Hole. Here are the keys to the Raiders coming out with another win.

Limiting the big play

Kansas City Head Coach Andy Reid’s offensive play calls are filled with motions, shifts, and post-snap misdirection. It’s like a magician performing sleight of hand card tricks and getting the audience to look the wrong way. Staying disciplined on defense against the Chiefs is the hardest task for any NFL defense facing them.

The play above goes 68 yards for a score. Notice the “smoke” motion from Tyreek Hill lined up in the backfield widening the defenders and opening a space for Sammy Watkins to catch the ball across the middle. Tackling is always suspect at the beginning of the NFL season and Watkins is a player with the speed to make defenses pay dearly for missed tackles.

The Raiders defense will have to trust their assignments and not get fooled by all the window dressing that goes into an Andy Reid offense. Oh and get the man on the ground.

This time the Chiefs go to the All-Pro TE Travis Kelce. First notice the two posts routes run by the receivers on the top of the screen. These routes clear out one side of the field and Kelce runs to the vacated area. The open space allows Mahomes to put the ball in the air and let Kelce run under it without worrying about a defender waiting.

Paul Guenther will have his hands full figuring out a way to scheme plays like this away and put defenders in positions to take away deep throws.

Creating pressure on the QB

Mahomes is a supremely gifted passer who can make huge throws and extend plays. These gifts will sometimes bite him however when he holds onto the ball while looking for the big play. The Jaguars were able to get pressure on Mahomes when he was waiting for routes to develop.

They say if you put a cat in a corner you will get scratched. Thats what happened here when the Jaguars are backed up in their own redzone. Yannick Ngakoue gets home on this Tackle-End twist when Mahomes steps up into the pocket. Mahomes briefly comes out and is diagnosed with a high ankle sprain as a result of this tackle.

Another example of the Tackle-End twist—this time its Calais Campbell who gets home. Mahomes is able to somehow get the ball out (and not get called for intentional grounding). These Tackle-End twists will be called when Raiders defensive ends Arden Key and Clelin Ferrell line up on the same side. Look for Paul Guenther to dial up some fun defensive line pressure for his defensive line.

Running the football

When going up against a great offense its important to keep your defense on the sidelines for as long as possible. Going 3-and-out against a team with an offense like the Chiefs will undoubtedly lead to falling too far behind. Committing to the run game drains the clock and helps the offense win the time of possession battle.

The Jaguars fell too far behind early on to commit to the run. However they showed the ability to gash the Chiefs defense on a few plays. Leonard Fournette gained 5.1 yards a carry on 13 carries. If Gruden gets his way, Jacobs will get close to twice that amount.

Another reason to commit to the run is keeping the pass rush from pinning their ears back and rushing the passer. This run out of shotgun takes the defense by surprise and 3 defensive linemen get upfield and surrender rushing lanes for Fournette to exploit. A steady dose of running the football will open up the entire playbook.

Taking deep shots

As mentioned earlier, a rookie quarterback was able to complete a high percentage of passes against this Kansas City defense. Both starting cornerbacks and the nickel corner gave up touchdown passed (one was called back due to a holding call). This defense is susceptible to the pass including the deep ball.

Before Nick Foles went out with an injury he tossed this beautiful touchdown. The Chiefs defense gave up a record number of points last year and their cornerbacks struggled all year. After game 1 of the 2019 season, the story seems to be repeating itself.

This time its Bashaud Breeland in coverage and he gives up this back shoulder fade for a score. The Chiefs best two cornerbacks are each 5’11 and will be at a size disadvantage going up against the Raiders duo of Tyrell Williams (6’4) and Darren Waller (6’6). Expect Carr to throw the ball up to his guys and letting them win the ball in the air.