The rest of the AFC should be rooting against Jon Gruden’s Raiders making the postseason this year. With the way that they’ve played this season, I do not think the conference will get its wish.
Las Vegas may have lost to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night and they did give up 35 points — including the game-winning touchdown drive that looked all too easy for Patrick Mahomes — but Derek Carr went stride for stride with the former MVP and the Raiders’ resume continues to look stronger as the season evolves.
Carr did more than just put up numbers against Kansas City, he made thrilling plays and dazzled with fewer weapons than many of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. The Raiders did almost enough to sweep the Chiefs — probably the most complete and talented team in the league right now — and they also have wins against the 8-2 Saints and 7-3 Browns. Las Vegas did lose to the Patriots, but it came on the road and they won’t be the last team upset by Bill Belichick.
Their only other losses are to 7-3 teams: the Bills and Bucs.
Against a difficult schedule, the Raiders are 6-4 and they currently hold the seven seed in the AFC — the last wild card berth this season. For now, they hold a tiebreaker over the 6-4 Ravens and Dolphins. Vegas next faces the Falcons and Jets on the road, before three straight home games against the Colts, Chargers and Dolphins. They finish the season in Denver.
I am beginning to feel confident that the Raiders are better than at least five of those teams, and though Indianapolis has a significant advantage on defense, Philip Rivers is capable of making any game close. The Raiders might be 6-4 now, but if they play as well as they have against the Chiefs this season, they should find themselves playing on the road in the first round of the playoffs ... and that’s not something that the home team is going to be thrilled about.
Derek Carr to Darren Waller
Confirmed: Darren Waller is a matchup nightmare @Raiders— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 23, 2020
#KCvsLV on NBC pic.twitter.com/6qhwD0bkA4
Derek Carr to Nelson Agholor for 29
.@DerekCarrQB fires to Agholor for 29 yards. #RaiderNation— NFL (@NFL) November 23, 2020
: #KCvsLV on NBC
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/O0IlFC03uf pic.twitter.com/2nXqEwLfMD
Before his desperation interception, Carr was 23 of 30 for 275 yards and three touchdowns with no sacks taken. He played great and he deserves all the credit in the world for doing enough on his side to beat Kansas City.
Unfortunately, the Raiders defense wasn’t able to contain the Kansas City offense when it mattered most. And maybe that’s not something to be entirely ashamed of; the Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions for a reason and they’re looking like the favorites again, at least in the AFC.
Las Vegas is proving to be a terrifying matchup for them in the years to come though.
Josh Jacobs touchdown
GROWN-MAN STRENGTH. @IAM_JoshJacobs | #KCvsLV | NBC pic.twitter.com/DnpzipU8s7— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) November 23, 2020
Jacobs had 55 rushing yards on 17 carries. That puts him at 755 on the season and 361 over the last four with four touchdowns.
Nelson Agholor touchdown
Nelson Agholor toe tap! pic.twitter.com/bI1iQcAF2D— Roto Street Journal (RSJ) (@RotoStJournal) November 23, 2020
Nelson Agholor was targeted eight times and finished with six catches and 88 yards. He’s proven to be capable of being a completely different type of receiver than he was with Doug Pederson and the Eagles. He’s a deep threat and he can put up numbers, so perhaps he just needs more opportunities. Given how much Carson Wentz and Philadelphia is struggling, maybe Agholor and a number of other players were wasted there in the last few years.
Doesn’t dread to thread
Derek Carr arm talent is different @derekcarrqb @Raiders— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 23, 2020
#KCvsLV on NBC pic.twitter.com/SK2tDOJvZa
Carr was really on it on Sunday night.
Derek Carr Deep Passing by Opponent (20+ Air Yards)— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 23, 2020
➤ 6/8, 262 yards, 3 TD (22% deep pass)
vs. All Others
➤ 8/21, 293 yards, 3 TD (8% deep pass)#KCvsLV | #RaiderNation
Derek Carr's command at the line of scrimmage has been next level this year. He spotted the mismatch as soon as he got to the line of scrimmage, called for the snap before @Chiefs could react. Easy TD to Nelson Agholor. 14-7 Raiders.— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) November 23, 2020
Trayvon Mullen intercepts Patrick Mahomes
Mullen Island— #ClemsonNFL (@ClemsonPros) November 23, 2020
Trayvon Mullen intercepts Patrick Mahomes to end the half! #ClemsonNFL
There’s not a lot we can do to praise individual plays on the defense this week, but Mullen had a few moments and he’s someone the front office can take some pride in unearthing from the draft last year. He had his first interception of the season and the second of his career. He now has nine pass breakups this season.
Bonus: Trayvon Mullen pass breakup
If Guenther is going to keep running these soft corners, the Raiders DBs need to rally to the catch point with physicality. Great job by Trayvon Mullen to rally w/ bad intentions for the PBU. #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/qMYLa3tH6e— Chris Reed (@ChrisReed_NFL) November 23, 2020
Carr to Renfrow sets up a touchdown
Hunter Renfrow dragging the defense @renfrowhunter @Raiders— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 23, 2020
#KCvsLV on NBC pic.twitter.com/A7HNlCMqSG
Renfrow was only targeted twice but had 37 yards.
Raiders draw up perfect goal line pass to re-take lead
Chiefs forgot to cover Darren Waller pic.twitter.com/RJE0HFciIM— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 23, 2020
Waller caught all seven of his targets and had 88 yards and this touchdown. It was his most efficient game this season as a receiver. He only had 13 catches for 86 yards over his last three games combined.
Jason Witten redemption touchdown
The vet! @Raiders go ahead on the Jason Witten touchdown. #RaiderNation— NFL (@NFL) November 23, 2020
: #KCvsLV on NBC
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/O0IlFC03uf pic.twitter.com/kwWTwofPx5
Witten finished the game with this stat line: 1 target, 1 catch, 1 yard, 1 touchdown, 1 false start, 1 “veteran move”
The false start could go under “bad moments” but Witten redeemed himself with the go-ahead touchdown. As it turns out, the false start wasn’t the problem. The problem was how much time Las Vegas left on the clock. Perhaps they should have set themselves back even a few more yards.
Jason Witten with the old man low post moves for the go-ahead TD for the Raiders pic.twitter.com/BOTS50s5Cy— Kevin Gray Jr. (@KevinGraySports) November 23, 2020
Open touchdown at the goal line to Tyreek Hill
Tyreek Hill walks it in for the TD pic.twitter.com/vGQ1JM5bvX— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 23, 2020
Tyreek Hill finished with 11 catches for 102 yards and this touchdown. Mahomes targeted either Hill or Kelce 24 times and that’s about all this offense needs to consistently move down the field against any defense.
Easy Chiefs touchdown drive helps Kansas City tie it up
Clyde Edwards-Helaire any time TD scorer -106: ✅— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) November 23, 2020
Live O/U: 69.5 pic.twitter.com/r3WX05zgmX
The Chiefs ran 11 plays on the drive and they only faced second down twice, never facing third down. That included this touchdown run.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire gives Chiefs the lead
That’s two touchdowns tonight for rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire.— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) November 23, 2020
That’s matches his season total coming into the game. #LSU pic.twitter.com/LM2OJSXk7d
Edwards-Helaire finished with 69 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. There are actually people who believe that Josh Jacobs and Edwards-Helaire were the worst first round picks of the last two years simply because they play running back.
Le’Veon Bell caps off drive with touchdown to give Chiefs lead again
Le’Veon Bell scores his first TD with the Chiefs— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 23, 2020
The issues with the defense were not really how they defended the goal line — though there are criticisms to be made there — but in how easy it was at times for the Chiefs to get there. That’s not too uncommon for Kansas City’s offense however.
Not having Travis Kelce covered and the Chiefs win the game
GO AHEAD @PatrickMahomes!!!— Sunday Night Football (@SNFonNBC) November 23, 2020
Mahomes finds @tkelce WIDE OPEN in the end zone. #ChiefsKingdom #KCvsLV | NBC pic.twitter.com/g7KRiPT3B3
He’s the only tight end in the NFL who is likely to top 1,000 yards this season. He was open again here and finished with 127 yards.
Carr did throw an interception to end the game but I’m not going to ding him for it. There wasn’t enough time to run even a one-minute drill. The Raiders had to go for it all and it wasn’t a bad throw, it’s just that Agholor was covered.