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

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Nov 1, 2015; London, United Kingdom; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) is defended by Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin (27) and cornerback Quandre Diggs (28) during game 14 of the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium. The Chiefs defeated the Lions 45-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4. Shut Down Travis Kelce

If anything has defined the Raiders defensive struggles throughout the season, it has been the inability to shut down opposing tight ends in the passing game. Whether it be Delanie Walker’s six catch, 91 yard day last week or the early season stretch of games in which every single tight end that played against the Raiders had a career day, tight ends have hurt the Raiders all year.

Of course that hasn’t been the case in every game. After the bye week, the Raiders appeared to have figured it out, limiting opposing tight ends week after week, including Heath Miller, Kyle Rudolph and Brandon Pettigrew in consecutive weeks before Walker’s big performance last week. So the Raiders know how to stop a good opposing tight end.

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NFL will have to put up Kelce brothers for another year
NFL will have to put up Kelce brothers for another year /

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  • Travis Kelce meanwhile might be the very heart and soul of the Chiefs offense right now. He is second on the team – behind wideout Jeremy Maclin, and not by much – with 54 receptions for 689 yards and leads the team with four receiving touchdowns. He is a stellar receiving tight end who is also a competent blocker, meaning he plays almost every offensive down for the Chiefs, and his presence or lack thereof won’t tip their hand.

    The Raiders will have a difficult time finding a good matchup for Kelce. At 6’5″ and 255, he is too big and long for a defensive back OR any of the Raiders smallish linebackers to effectively cover and is far too speedy and athletic to be matched up with a bigger linebacker. Man coverage against him would be foolhardy, especially with Neiron Ball still out of the lineup. It will require intelligent scheme work, but one technique could be to use Mario Edwards or Denico Autry to engage him at the line, slowing his release, then keeping Charles Woodson over the top of him while a linebacker – like Malcolm Smith – brackets him underneath.

    While Jeremy Maclin could appear on paper to be the Chiefs’ best weapon in the pass game, Maclin can be held in check by David Amerson or TJ Carrie, who match up well with him physically. Alex Smith to Jeremy Maclin won’t kill the Raiders, but a 255 pound tight end getting the ball in space or coming uncovered in the seam could be a disaster.