Derek Carr played his best game against the Kansas City Chiefs to date back in Week 7. However, there is still room for improvement for him vs. Kansas City.
In 11 games during the 2017 NFL season, Oakland Raiders franchise quarterback Derek Carr has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,731 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Those aren’t exactly Pro Bowl numbers, but it has been more good than bad for Carr in his fourth season as the Raiders starter.
Though it wasn’t his best game of the season, Carr did have his best game versus the Kansas City Chiefs in seven career meetings with the Raiders’ arch rival back in Week 7. In that game, Carr completed 55.8 percent of his passes for 417 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Raiders’ thrilling 31-30 victory over Kansas City.
Statistically, Carr has had three better games than that one versus Kansas City (Week 1 at Tennessee Titans, Week 2 vs. New York Jets, Week 12 vs. Denver Broncos) this season. However, it will take another great performance out of Carr to beat Kansas City on the road Sunday. Does Carr have what it takes? Is there any room for improvement after that stellar Week 7 performance versus Kansas City?
In the Raiders’ three wins since they last played Kansas City (Week 9 at Miami Dolphins, Week 12 vs. Broncos, Week 13 vs. New York Giants), Carr has had a quarterback rating of at least of 95.5, completing at least 61.1 percent of his passes for 253 yards and a touchdown.
Carr may not throw for over 400 yards on Kansas City this time, but we can expect him to complete throws at a higher clip than he did against the Chiefs earlier in the season. He is well above his career average of 61.5 percent completion as a passer. Kansas City’s defense has gotten worse since the Chiefs last played the Raiders. The Chiefs have won one game since that Week 7 meeting and that was to a Broncos team that hasn’t won a game since Oct. 1.
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What this game versus Kansas City presents for Carr is an opportunity to grow into a passer that can beat his team’s arch rival more consistently. He is just 2-5 in seven career games versus the Chiefs. Carr doesn’t need to throw for 400 yards to prove he’s made progress in understanding Bob Sutton’s defense.
What will show that he’s made progress is in getting that completion percentage over 60 percent, averaging around 8.0 yards per attempt and having more touchdowns to interceptions on the afternoon. There are other players on the Raiders that will be able to help him win on Sunday. Not to mention the many self-inflicted issues that are plaguing the Chiefs in the second half of the season.
We’ve seen Carr come to life in Todd Downing’s offense in the last month or so. Can he prove that Week 7 performance wasn’t a one time thing? If he can prove he can compete at a high level versus Kansas City consistently, then the Raiders will be in the mix for division titles for the rest of the decade. Yards per attempt, turnover differential and completion percentage are the three metrics to keep an eye on with Carr on Sunday.