Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders
Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs are trying to bounce back from a tough loss at home last Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Thursday night, they will travel to Oakland to face off in a huge division game against the struggling Raiders. The Chiefs sit at 5-1, and are arguably the best team in the NFL. Last week, the Chiefs went into their game against Pittsburgh averaging 414.2 yards and 32.8 points per game. Pittsburgh’s defense shut down NFL rushing leader and Rookie of the Year favorite, Kareem Hunt – holding him to just 21 yards on 9 carries. The Steelers also held the league’s top-rated passer to just 246 yards and a touchdown.
The Chiefs do have some streaks going into this game that should play to their advantage. Against the Raiders, the Chiefs have won five straight and are 7-1 since Andy Reid took over the reigns of head coach. They have won an unbelievable 12 AFC West games in a row. (This is the longest active streak in the NFL for any team against divisional opponents) Also, they have won 9 straight games on the road.
Chiefs keys to victory
The key for the Chiefs on offense will have to be establishing the run early, and to continue to do a good job in limiting turnovers (Alex Smith has yet to throw an interception all year) They struggled to get Kareem Hunt going against Pittsburgh, and it ended up coming back to bite them in the end. If they get Hunt going early, it will open up a lot more opportunities for playmakers in the play action game, like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
On defense, the Chiefs struggled this past weekend, surrendering 194 rushing yards. In their defense, not many teams can stop the run against Le’Veon Bell. But, the Chiefs have struggled defending the run this year, they rank 28th in the NFL in yards per rush allowed. One of the reasons behind this is Eric Berry. Berry is arguably the best safety in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, he is out and expected to miss another 5 months. Berry was a key component in the Chiefs defense in stopping the run. If they find a way to stop the run, they should find themselves in a good position to win on Thursday Night.
Raiders outlook for Thursday night vs Chiefs
The Oakland Raiders will host the league’s-best Kansas City Chiefs in an almost “must-win” divisional game. The Raiders started off the year hot, winning their first two games. Since then, they’ve lost four in a row. Derek Carr will need to rally his troops to fight and claw to win this game. In the past, Carr has both struggled against the Chiefs and during PrimeTime football games. He is 1-5 against the Chiefs in his career – completing only just 55% of his passes, throwing 6 touchdowns mixed with 5 interceptions. Carr missed one week this year with a back injury, and when he returned he did not impress. He struggled, completing 21/30, throwing only one touchdown and two interceptions. Ouch.
On offense in general, the Raiders have had their struggles. Amari Cooper will need to step up for this game. So far this year, he has had one touchdown – in week one, and has yet to record over 65 receiving yards. Early season struggles are certainly expected for a young player, but it is getting close to the middle of the season, so it’s time for Cooper to break out of his slump. Marshawn Lynch has been another player off to a slow start, and will have to get it going to challenge this Kansas City defense.
On defense, Oakland has yet to allow a single rusher to 100 yards, but rank 21st in run defense, and 14th in pass defense. They will have their hands full with a number of Chiefs playmakers, like Hunt and Hill. The most important thing for the Raiders to do is to stop the run, and force Alex Smith to throw the ball. The Chiefs are a lot better team when they have the opportunity to mix the run/pass game. If the Raiders take away that opportunity, it will increase their chances to win. A big component in stopping the run will be their defensive end Khalil Mack. Mack will need to cause mayhem in the backfield, which he almost always does.
If the Raiders want to win this game, they need to limit the turnovers, and score touchdowns in the red zone. Against great teams like the Chiefs, it is important to take advantage of any opportunity you can get-and don’t give them any extra opportunities.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a lot going for them in this TNF game, and the Raiders have too many questions marks in their depth chart.