Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Keys to the Game

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Nov 29, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA;Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans during an NFL football game at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Let Carr Sling It

Last week, in wet conditions on the road in Nashville, the Raiders coaching staff decided to get conservative with a 17-14 lead late in the game. The Titans defense shut down the Raider rushing attack, and allowed the Titans offense to take the lead back. The Raider rushing attack averaged only 2.8 yards per carry for the game. A week prior, the Raiders had only averaged 2.5 yards per carry against the Lions. With Rodney Hudson likely out for another game, facing a Chiefs defense that plays the run well, the Raiders shouldn’t waste time attempting to run the ball to set up the pass. Just pass.

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  • Of course, the Chiefs also have a solid secondary and rush the passer well normally, but this week, the Raiders have lucked out. The Chiefs top pass rusher, Justin Houston, is out, and the great Tamba Hali will be playing hurt with a knee injury. Allen Bailey, who is third on the team with four sacks on the year, is listed as questionable as well. The Raiders have done well in pass protection all year, even with Rodney Hudson out, and Derek Carr has normally had time to get the ball to his receivers. With the Chiefs likely struggling to generate that powerful edge rush that has helped them win five games in a row, the Carr should have time to pick apart the Chiefs secondary with his multitude of weapons.

    Of course, Carr has historically played better if the run game was working, win or lose, both this year and last. The Raiders have only won a single game this season where the running game didn’t put up 100 yards or close to it (the Raiders run game amassed 97 yards in the win against Baltimore, on only 19 rushes). But Carr doesn’t need the crutch of a dominant run game in order to get going. He’s managed 0n a couple of occasions to get the Raiders ahead quickly with his arm, and the run game has simply amassed yards closing games out. And of course last week he simply carried the team to a victory when the run game was going nowhere. If Carr is allowed to get off to a fast start and throw the ball down the field successfully early on, then the run game will take care of itself.