Coming off a brutal loss to the New York Jets, it would be easy to see why Raider Nation isn’t exactly optimistic about the upcoming showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead. KC’s iconic stadium hasn’t been kind to Derek Carr’s Oakland Raiders, and whatever momentum the team had was pummeled into the ground in East Rutherford on Sunday. If the Silver and Black can’t beat Patrick Mahomes and company, the whispers of a post-season run will likely be snuffed out.
Here’s how the Oakland Raiders can stun the world and come out of Kansas City with a win.
How the Oakland Raiders Can Beat the Kansas City Chiefs
Know Your Enemy
Make no mistake, the Kansas City Chiefs have the advantage. Andy Reid is almost unbeatable coming off a bye, especially at home, and he’s not familiar with losing to the Raiders. It’s only happened twice since he became the team’s head coach back in 2013, both games were by the skin of Derek Carr’s teeth, and neither game was in Kansas City.
Derek Carr has been abysmal in Kansas City. We wrote an entire article about it, and he hasn’t exactly been great in bad weather, which the forecast calls for. You don’t have to look very hard to find examples of this either, he just laid an egg against the New York Jets a few days ago.
On paper, the Chiefs should absolutely eviscerate the Raiders. I’m expecting it, even making the Chiefs victory my lock for my picks this week. But just because I’m not optimistic, that doesn’t mean I don’t hope against hope that my boys pull off the upset. And it’s not even unfathomable, there’s a very clear, if challenging, path to victory.
Pound The Rock
I feel like a broken record because I say this every single week, but feed Josh Jacobs. Jacobs averages 14 carries in losses and 22 carries in wins, that’s not a coincidence. Now, obviously, when your defense gives up 26 points a game, you’re probably not going to find yourself in a ton of running situations, but the funny thing about that is that running the ball keeps your defense off the field. Even if you’re not running the ball well, the clock is moving and the defense gets to rest up a little.
The Jets were able to stifle Jacobs and company because they have the NFL’s best run defense. They only give up about 78 rushing yards a week, and they did a fantastic job of stopping the Raider rushers. Kansas City’s run defense? Nowhere near as good. They’re 30th in the NFL, giving up about 143 yards on the ground a week.
The Raiders couldn’t get the run going last week, then they isolated Darren Waller, and when Carr could get the ball out to other receivers, they were frequently dropped. The Chiefs don’t have that kind of talent on defense, so the Raiders should be able to execute their gameplan… assuming they actually remember to feed Jacobs.
Control the Clock
This could’ve fit into the last key, but it’s important that the Raiders win time of possession. It’s such a cliche to say that you’ll win if you control the clock and don’t turn the ball over, but it’s a cliche the Raiders should respect this week. The best way to stop Patrick Mahomes is to keep him off the field. This means executing the little things, keeping third downs manageable, and taking calculated risks instead of trying to go blow-for-blow with one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses.
I’m not going to bother writing something like “contain the offense” or “don’t give up big plays” because they’re inevitable. Kansas City is too deep at receiver, and they’re just too damn explosive for a secondary as depleted as Oakland’s. The Raiders are without their three starting safeties, their original starting corner, and a chunk of their linebacking corps, and as we saw last week, what remains isn’t anything to write home about.
Patrick Mahomes is going to make big plays, and while I hope the Raiders can do something to contain them, they’ve got to try to throw him off his game. Maxx Crosby, Maurice Hurst, Benson Mayowa, Clelin Ferrell, and whoever else the Raiders rush at number 15 have to consistently make contact. As a very wise man once said, the quarterback must go down, and he must go down hard.
The Chiefs are one of the prettiest teams in football. They create big flashy plays through the air and steamroll teams. But they’re not physical. If the Raiders want to win this game, they have to change the tone. If they go in there and try to duel Mahomes, they will lose. They need to make the game as physical as possible. At least 25 rushing attempts, five quarterback hits, and some kind of muscle over the middle. Because I’ll tell you right now, if the Chiefs can eat underneath like the Jets did last week, this game will be over before halftime.