The Oakland Raiders look to move to 5-1 in Week 6 at home against the division rival Kansas City Chiefs. Here are four matchups to watch.
The Oakland Raiders have won three games in a row, have solo possession of first place in the AFC West headed into Sunday’s game with the Chiefs, and also are tied for the best record in the conference.
But a division rival that has had their number is coming to town, so it will be a challenge for the Raiders to get to 5-1. In order to get there, these are four individual matchups Oakland will have to win.
Perry Riley Jr. vs. Travis Kelce
There wasn’t a lot of optimism about the signing of Perry Riley Jr. before the Week 5 contest against the Chargers. He was an average vet that was brought in to take some snaps due to injuries — it happens all the time and generally there isn’t much more to it than that.
This wasn’t the case for Riley’s debut. He led the team in tackles against the Chargers (7) and also forced a fumble. By all accounts, he is a great leader on defense as well.
Ken Norton Jr. praised Riley’s football IQ and dedication, stating of Riley:
"“You can tell that his years of experience have really helped him with the ability to come out here and play right away. You can tell he’s paying attention. He wasn’t at home watching soap operas. He was in his books, he was watching football. He stayed sharp, so by the time it was time for him to have an opportunity, he was ready and it showed in his play and it shows. He’s a true veteran.”"
The hope is obviously that Riley can continue on the same career trajectory as former Washington teammate David Amerson, who after a lackluster stint with the team, found his way to Oakland and flourished.
Travis Kelce is more than just a reality TV star, despite what you may see when you Google his name. He is one of the best young and productive TEs in football.
Kelce is averaging 55 yards and half a TD per game, but unfortunately, Oakland’s defense has been much worse than “average”.
Kelce’s talent as a blocker and receiver make him a unique matchup. His athletic ability is on par with some receivers, but at 255 pounds, he outweighs Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson by about 50 pounds each. This means that Kelce will likely draw a matchup with a LB, especially in the red zone.
The question is which LB will get the majority of the matchups against Kelce. While Cory James is likely one of the better options, I am more intrigued by Riley’s ability to cover Kelce.
The worst kept secret in the NFL is Oakland’s inability to cover TEs. James and Joseph have helped, but Hunter Henry, although talented, is just a rookie and he tore up the defense. The hope is that with another week in the scheme, Riley can hold the Pro Bowler Kelce to “average” numbers.
Riley’s intelligence and experience should help him cover Kelce, hopefully all that film studying will pay off.