Oakland Raiders Week 13 Primer: Chiefs Week

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Nov 29, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) drops back to pass against the Buffalo Bills in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 30-22. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs Kingdom Invades the Black Hole

With no Justin Houston for this game, the Raiders are in prime position to beat the Chiefs at home. If Houston had been active, the Raiders would have been forced into almost consistent quick passing and a variety of double teams or chip blocks in order to slow him down. Without Houston, the Chief defense becomes much more limited in what it can do up front and will have to dial up even more blitzes.

Second year player Dee Ford will be getting his first NFL start and he has yet to record a sack this season. Ford blew away the scouts at the combine and showed an amazing ability to bend the edge, but it has yet to translate for him in the NFL. In many respects, he is a physical freak that just blew away his competition in college and his type have come and gone.

The real threat provided by the Chiefs in this game is their defensive backfield. Of course Eric Berry is the rock in that back four, but rookie cornerback Marcus Peters has been exceptional this season. He has struggled occasionally with solid receivers, especially those who have quick feet and exceptional cuts, because he is a cornerback that likes to get his hands on his opponent.

Interestingly enough, his four interceptions have all come against struggling quarterbacks this season. He has two against Peyton Manning, one in each game against the Broncos, one against Brian Hoyer, and one against Teddy Bridgewater. In some respects, Peters is a result of exceptional pass rush and has taken advantage of opportunities created by the front seven. This does not lessen how good he has been this season, and good players capitalize on those situations, but it speaks more about how you can work around this defensive backfield if you can block the front seven.

The other cornerback for the Chiefs is Sean Smith another long press corner. He will likely shadow Crabtree because they are a very similar stature. In the front seven, the Raiders have to watch two players, Poe and Hali. Luckily for the Raiders, they have high-quality players along the offensive line that can matchup very well in Hudson and Penn.

It seems the Raiders have run into a gambit of blitz based defenses this season and for the most part, they have done a solid job in picking them apart. Of course, this comes down in many respects to the gameplan and playcalling by Bill Musgrave. A handful of times this season against these blitz based defenses, he has decided to shorten the game and go run heavy. As I have shown many times, this is a dumb idea. What the Raiders need to do in this game is do what they do best, sling the rock.

For all intents and purposes, the Raiders can almost entirely ignore the traditional run game. Utilizing screens, swing passes, and run pass option is a non-traditional way to maintain balance offensively. The Chiefs will put themselves in 0 coverage and tight quarters coverage often, which means the Raider playmakers will have a lot of one on one opportunities and if they can break a tackle there is a great opportunity to pick up yards after contact.

Perhaps the biggest wildcard for the Raiders on offense is how they can test the slots. The trio of Seth Roberts who is coming off a two-touchdown performance, Clive Walford, and Andre Holmes can provide a variety of tricky matchups for the Chiefs defense. Musgrave should utilize each one of these players in a variety of one on one matchups that give the Raiders some advantage. The Chiefs may use Berry to eliminate Walford, and if that is the case Roberts and Holmes should see almost constant single coverage in the slot.

For the bulk of the season the Raiders have been a team that prefers to run between the guards. Excluding the Jets game where the Raiders spent most of the game attacking with off tackle runs. With Poe manning the middle of that Chief defense, the Raiders need to focus again on attacking off tackle. Ideally, the Raiders would go to a pistol formation which would provide them the perfect balance between shotgun and under center runs, but that seems like an unlikely choice from Musgrave.

With that in mind, the Raiders need to forget their trepidation with Murrays hands on tosses and go to a short shotgun toss run that gives Murray a head of steam running downhill at the edges of the Chief defense. The option sweeps the Raiders run could also be a successful play call as long as the Raiders hold down Poe in the middle giving Murray a natural cutback lane. The key to this game however, is Musgrave focusing on establishing the pass first out of spread sets in order to loosen the defensive box. Once that happens, the Raiders can attack with much more confidence on the ground.

On the defense the gameplan is actually very simple. The Raiders need to continue to mix up coverages, but lean towards more two deep safety sets. Carrie would be best to cover Maclin, but with Amerson’s new found confidence having him take that job would not be a bad idea. The key to stopping Travis Kelce is using a variety of coverages to force the ball away from his direction and dictate passes to other receivers. The combination of Mays, Smith, Allen, and Hayden can be used to bracket Kelce and confuse Smith.

More important than anything else for the Raiders is the need to produce pressure. The Chiefs have a below average offensive line and the Raider pass rush should look to feast. The tandem of Mack and Edwards could prove to be a dynamic threat. The Raiders must also control the run game with their front seven ideally and be very weary of the screen game. I would expect to see more Ben Heeney at middle linebacker in this game for that reason.

Next: Week 13 Primer: Prediction