The Chiefs Still Have A Shot At The 1 Seed, It Starts By Defeating The Raiders
During the Patrick Mahomes era, the Chiefs have not lost a road divisional game. Currently they are 15-0 and looking to keep the streak alive against the Las Vegas Raiders. A few weeks ago, the Raiders benched Derek Carr and started Jarrett Stidham. He went off against the best defense in the league and racked up an impressive 365 passing yards and three touchdowns in his first start of the year. Kansas City looks to prevent another big week for the former backup.
Stidham did end up throwing two interceptions but his style of QB gave the Raiders a new life on the offensive side of the ball. Carr has been heavily criticized throughout the year for not pushing the ball down the field. He constantly was checking the ball down despite stars like Adams open down the field.
Stidham flipped the narrative of the Raiders offense in one week when both his top receiving options in Devante Adams and Darren Waller added up for 215 plus yards and three touchdowns.
The Chiefs will not face the Raiders top running back Josh Jacobs in this one. Jacobs has been on the injury report for three different reasons. He has missed practice because of a hip, oblique and non injury related injury. This caused him to miss multiple days of practice. He is officially labeled as questionable but missing key days of practice on a short week is difficult to overcome.
The last time these two games played there were some memorable moments. On Monday night football at Arrowhead Stadium, Travis Kelce had one of the oddest box scores of the year. The Raiders were able to stop him outside the red zone but he ended the game with four receiving touchdowns. This is despite the fact he only got 25 receiving yards.
George Karlaftis got to the quarterback for the first time of his career against the Raiders. While he was only credited with half a sack, it was a review for what was to come as the season progressed.
Karlaftis has had a sack in four out of the last five games. His production adds to a pass rushing room that is fourth in the league. One the flip side of the ball the Raiders have one of the best pass protecting lines as they have given up the seventh least amount of sacks in the league.
The Chiefs have a unique opportunity to put pressure on a young inexperienced QB in Stidham. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnolo is known for his love not just for blitzing but creative blitzing.
The Chiefs have a tendency to get pressure from all three levels of the defense. The team has seen multiple sacks from corners, safeties, linebackers and defensive linemen alike. Kansas City is likely to continue that philosophy.
The Chiefs are also dealing with significant injuries for the first time in weeks, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Skyy Moore has a laceration on his hand that needed sutures. This caused swelling forcing him to miss practice. He has officially been ruled out.
Mecole Hardman has missed seven weeks due to an abdomen injury. He was put back onto the 53 man roster on his last day of eligibility on Wednesday. Andy Reid said earlier in the week that the Hardman will be on a snap count.
Other players like guard Joe Thuney is listed as questionable with the ankle he re-injured last week and L’Jarius Sneed is questionable with a hip pointer he injured last week.
One of the more worrying injuries is Harrison Butker’s back. On Wednesday the Chiefs announced that Butker missed practice with back spasms.
The extent of his injury is not fully known but this may impact the decision making process for a struggling special teams unit. The Chiefs did bring in Matthew Wright onto the practice squad. Wright did hit a 59 yard field goal earlier in the year and was overall a productive kicker making all of his PATs.
Despite the Chiefs having a significantly better record than the Raiders, any division matchup will be entertaining. Look for the Raiders to give their all in this one in hopes of spoiling Kansas City’s playoff seeding.