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Victory in Kansas City can change Raiders’ season trajectory

Las Vegas took a big step forward in win over Broncos, but could take two steps back with loss to Chiefs

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) holds a career mark of 1-7 at Arrowhead. Success against the Chiefs in Kansas City has been fleeting for the franchise signal caller.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos’ Thursday night debacle makes the Monday night tilt between the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs important for the AFC West. Either Kansas City (3-1 overall) can create even more distance as the division’s alpha squad or Las Vegas (1-3) can make up a lot of ground with a win.

Plainly put: It would be much better for Josh McDaniels’ desert marauders went into the bye week at 2-3 rather than a somber 1-4.

It won’t be easy. Hell, it might be the hardest thing the Raiders do this season. But a victory in Arrowhead on Monday night would do the Silver & Black wonders. It’d be one giant leap forward for a team that struggled during it’s first four games. Not only would Las Vegas make up for lost time in the division race — the team is currently in the cellar with the worst record, and the Los Angeles Chargers’ win on Sunday makes them 3-2 — it further cements the team is really turning the corner.

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders need tailback Josh Jacobs (28) and the offensive line to be on point and productive Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Defeat, however, would be two costly steps backwards. It would not only undo the good Las Vegas generated in the team’s much-needed win over the suddenly limping Broncos, the heavy anchor already tied to the Raiders’ waist gets heavier as they sink further into cellar-dweller status. That turning the corner talk disappears like a fart in the wind with an L in Arrowhead.

Fortunately for his Raiders, McDaniels is no stranger to coaching against the Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs. Las Vegas’ head coach dropped compliment after compliment on Reid, Mahomes and the Chiefs during his mid-week press conference. There’s a respect there for McDaniels and he’s imparting a proper mindset upon his Raiders.

“There’s definitely an element of you’re going to need to play every single minute of the game like that play could be the one that determines the outcome because you never know when it’s going to be the one,” McDaniels said of dueling with the Chiefs.

Can It Be Done?

For as mighty as the Chiefs look this season, the one blemish on their record came at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts — the same team that dropped the bumbling Broncos this past Thursday night. That alone makes Kansas City vulnerable.

It’s conceivable the Raiders march into Arrowhead and walk out victors. If the team displays the same brute-force determination to run the ball (against the Chiefs defense that is tops in the league stopping the run), pairs that with a timely and productive passing attack, and a concentrated defensive effort, it’s possible.

Disciplined offense, defense, and special teams by the Raiders will be instrumental. If they’re lacking in any department, it could lead to a snowball effect that becomes a red avalanche. McDaniels spoke of the gap discipline his defense must have Monday night while also speaking glowingly of the Chiefs’ offense.

“We use the phrase ‘eye candy’. They want you to look over here and then all of a sudden, the ball is over here and your kind of like, ‘What happened?’” McDaniels began. “What has always impressed me about them is how well they execute those things. Everybody kind of giggles and laughs when you see him throw an underhand pass to a fullback on a shovel pass, or (Travis) Kelce lines up at quarterback in the redzone and then runs the ball in, or runs an option, or shovel pass, whatever it is. And people kind of get a kick out of that. What’s always impressed me is how precise they are and how detailed they are when they do those things.

“Look, players like to run things that are fun. They enjoy that. Andy has always been somebody that you, as an offensive coach, watch their things and you say, ‘Can we steal that from them? Or would we call that?’”

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes can leave opposing defenses confused with creative play calling and execution.
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

By The Numbers

However, historically, the numbers don’t sway in the favor of the Silver & Black. In the last 16 meetings, Kansas City holds a commanding 13-3 advantage. In the last eight games in Arrowhead, the Chiefs have only lost one of those games. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr spoke of the environment during his mid-week media session.

“Yeah, it’s a hostile environment. It’s one of the loudest in the whole NFL,” Carr noted of Arrowhead. “But it’s a division game, it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be a physical game. They have great coaches, great players. Since I’ve been here, they’ve had really good football teams. So, this is just a new team, new year. Both teams are different, but looking forward to going out there and competing. But it’s always a hostile environment.”

For his career, the Raiders franchise signal caller sports this stat line: 388 of 621 (62.48 percent) for 3,879 yards, 24 touchdowns, 17 interceptions while getting sacked 39 times and fumbling 13 times (losing four).

Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs — who had a career day against the Broncos last week — will help decide if the offense is effective or ineffective against Kansas City. McDaniels and Co. need another solid outing from Jacobs in Arrowhead, no question. in six career games against Kansas City, Jacobs churned out 375 yards and three touchdowns on 85 totes (4.41 yards per carry average).

Flip it to Carr’s preferred target, wide receiver Davante Adams, and surprisingly, the veteran wideout has produced just six catches for 42 yards and no scores in two career games against Kansas City (while a Green Bay Packer).

Las Vegas slot receiver Hunter Renfrow (who appears to be a go for the matchup in Arrowhead) has 27 catches for 272 yards and two touchdowns in five career games against the Chiefs. Tight end Darren Waller, on the other hand, produced 32 catches for 346 yards and two scores in six games against Kansas City.