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

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Nov 29, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts (10) is defended by Tennessee Titans cornerback Perrish Cox (29) during an NFL football game at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

5. Find and Exploit Mismatches

The Chiefs defensive unit doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses. Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Sean Smith are both bigger, physical corners with good but not great speed, and safeties Ron Parker and cancer warrior Eric Berry are as good a safety tandem as there is in the league. The Chiefs also feature a strong front seven, with interior linebackers Derrick Johnson an Josh Mauga, nose tackle Dontari Poe, and of course Justin Houston and Tamba Hali on the edges.

But the Chiefs will be missing some men. Houston is out, as is backup safety Husain Abdullah. Defensive End Allen Bailey is listed as questionable, as is backup linebacker Dee Ford, who looked to feature heavily in Houston’s absence. Starting end Mike Devito and five-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Tamba Hali are both playing hurt, as is dime cornerback Marcus Cooper.

The Raiders offense, meanwhile, is pretty much healthy aside from center Rodney Hudson, who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes are all healthy, as are Latavius Murray, Marcel Reece, Jamize Olawale, Mychal Rivera and Clive Walford. With all these healthy weapons suited up against a banged up Chiefs defense, there will undoubtedly be a matchup issue the Raiders can exploit.

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One potential matchup nightmare for the Chiefs will be with their slot/nickel corner – which has been manned at various points by Jamell Fleming and safety Ron Parker. Fleming would be an awful matchup against the Raiders’ larger wideouts like Holmes and Roberts, and doesn’t have the skill set to match up with Crabtree or Cooper if they are moved into the slot. Parker, a better cover player, doesn’t have the speed to run with Cooper.

The Raiders have had luck using Cooper and Crabtree in slot roles while putting the bigger wideouts Holmes and Roberts on the perimeter. When teams don’t adjust, Cooper and Crabtree can do damage to nickel cover guys. If teams do adjust, then undersized backup corners get demolished on the perimeter by Roberts and Holmes, leading to big-play scores.

The Raiders have as talented a wide receiver group as any in the NFL, something that the Chiefs, as good as their secondary has been, haven’t really had to see during their five game win streak. With their pass rush diminished by Justin Houston’s absence, look for the secondary depth of the Chiefs to be exploited.