Photo credit: @RAIDERS
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
OAKLAND — After back-to-back wins at home over the Broncos and the Giants, the Raiders head on the road to take on the Chiefs in Kansas City Sunday in a critical AFC West matchup. The Raiders are looking to complete the season sweep over the Chiefs after dispatching Kansas City, 31-30, in Week 7 at Oakland that halted Kansas City’s 11-game divisional win streak.
Kickoff is at 10:00 a.m. PT from Arrowhead Stadium. With both teams–along with the Los Angeles Chargers–sporting identical 6-6 records, the winner of this game would be in the driver seat of the division with three games to go in the regular season.
For the second straight week, Oakland’s defense held the opposing team to under 300 yards of total offense in limiting the Giants to 265 yards in Week 13. Defensive lineman Denico Autry recorded one of Oakland’s three sacks, his third in the last two games. Defensive end Khalil Mack and linebacker Bruce Irvin each posted a sack off of Giants starting quarterback Geno Smith.
Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman led the team with eight solo tackles (one assisted).
Running back Marshawn Lynch carried the offensive load for Oakland, running for a 100 yards in a game since October 2015 as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. Lynch rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries, including a 51-yard touchdown run on Oakland’s first drive of the game. It was Lynch’s second-straight 100-yard game for Oakland this season.
Lynch owes the Raiders a big performance against the Chiefs, after getting ejected from the previous game for making contact with an official after coming off the bench to aid in defusing an altercation between Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters, and the Raiders offensive line.
Lynch and Peters are “cousins” with the two having close ties from growing up in West Oakland.
With Oakland’s wide receiver corps depleted with Michael Crabtree serving a one-game suspension for fighting with Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, and Amari Cooper out with a concussion/left ankle injury, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson step up for the Silver and Black leading the team with 79 yards receiving on four receptions. Patterson’s 59-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter, helped seal Oakland’s victory over the Giants.
Crabtree is expected to be ready to go against the Chiefs, but Cooper is a different story. Cooper did clear the league’s concussion protocol, the team announced Wednesday, but has yet to practice on the sprained left ankle. If you’re part of Raider Nation, you better take a wait-and-see approach with Cooper.
Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr completed 22-of-36 passing for 287 yards and a touchdown, a nine-yard toss to wide receiver Johnny Holton in the fourth quarter.
Carr’s biggest performance of 2017 came against the Chiefs in front of a national audience on NBC’s Thursday Night Football, throwing for a ridiculous 417 yards on 29-of-52 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Carr and Cooper were in perfect harmony that night, with Cooper having a career night with 11 receptions (on 15 targets) for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper scored on touchdowns of 38- and 45-yards respectively.
In seven career games against Kansas City, Carr is just 2-5 against the Chiefs, his worst record against one team. Carr is just 3-4 against the Broncos in seven career games, his second-worst record against one team.
But Sunday’s game is essentially a playoff game for Oakland’s signal-caller, who sports a 0-3 record at Arrowhead Stadium. Carr knows that he must play well in order for the Raiders to leave Kansas City with a win.
Speaking before Wednesday’s practice, Carr acknowledge that the Silver and Black have their work cut out for them facing the Chiefs.
“Definitely number one right now, especially this week,” Carr said via the team’s official website. “It’s definitely up there. It’s something that we have not been able to do since I’ve been here. We have to get on that.
“We have a tough task ahead of us because, although their record is the same as ours, we’re both pretty good football teams. We have to go out there and play hard.”
After starting the season 5-0, including an impressive 42-27 win at New England in Week 1, Kansas City’s season has fallen into a tailspin. The Chiefs are just 1-6 in their last seven games and are currently riding a four-game losing streak after falling to the New York Jets, 38-31, at MetLife Stadium in an offensive shootout last Sunday.
Kansas City’s offense racked up 474 yards of total offense against the Jets, with starting quarterback Alex Smith having a huge day throwing and running the football. Smith threw for 366 yards on 19-of-33 passing, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. The former Utah quarterback also had a 70-yard run in the game.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill erupted for six receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns, while tight end Travis Kelce finished with four receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Kansas City was shredded by the Jets allowing 488 yards of total offense to Gang Green. Journeyman quarterback Josh McCown threw for 331 yards on 26-of-36 passing and a touchdown. Kansas City’s secondary allowed wide receivers Jermaine Kearse (9 receptions for 157 yards) and Robby Anderson (8 receptions for 107 yards) to run uncovered for most of the game.
The Jets converted 13-of-20 third downs and hogged the time of possession, controlling the clock for 42:49 and didn’t allow the Chiefs to get near McCown. Justin Houston, Kansas City’s most feared pass-rusher, was held to just one tackle for the game.
That won’t cut it for a team who has a rich history of getting to the quarterback with guys named Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and Tamba Hali just to name a few.
In Kansas City’s biggest game of the season, the team will play without the aforementioned Peters, who was suspended by the team Wednesday for leaving the field while the game was still being played against the Jets. Peters also threw a penalty flag in the stands after a Jet touchdown.
With Peters out against the Raiders, the Chiefs already leaky secondary has gotten weaker and that could be a place where Oakland could attack. Teams are averaging 252.8 passing yards a game against the Chiefs this season. Kansas City ranks 28th in the league against the pass.
Oakland averages 241.2 passing yards per game this season, good for 15th in the league. Overall, the Silver and Black rank 21st in the league averaging 20.8 points per game.
Following Sunday’s game, the Raiders will host the visiting Dallas Cowboys at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum in Oakland’s final home game of the regular season, while Kansas City hosts the Chargers in another pivotal AFC West matchup in Week 15.