The Las Vegas Raiders face their toughest test of the year as they visit the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs led Quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
After a 2-0 start, and a big win on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints, Raider Nation was feeling good about the state of the Raiders and the direction the team was going, even with the defensive struggles. Two losses later, although both winnable games without the Raiders making mistakes, it seems like the momentum of the team has taken a wrong turn.
Now the Kansas City Chiefs and their high-scoring offense led by supertar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, speedy receivers Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and emerging rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire are next on the schedule to face the Raiders struggling defense. Derek Carr has also had very real struggles in Arrowhead Stadium, so that is also something playing against the Raiders favor.
With the stadium not in full capacity, and the temperature being moderate for Sunday will this be the game that Carr finally goes off on this defense? Or will he continue to struggle against the hated Chiefs. Here are three things to watch for on Sunday.
It’s no secret the defense has had its share of struggles this season, from injuries to starters like Damon Arnette, Nick Kwiatkoski, and Maurice Hurst, who was added to the COVID-19 reserve List on Monday after testing positive, to simple mistakes. The defense has been over-pursuing running gaps, running backs, and missing tackles leading to huge cut back runs, poor eye discipline and communication in the secondary leading to wide open receivers down the field.
The defensive line has also struggled mightily, and will have a huge hole to fill with Hurst being out because he’s been the best player on the defense so far this season. If the Raiders can fix the simple mistakes, the defensive line can start creating some pressure, and if the run defense can improve with middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski returning last week, we will see the improvements we expected to see coming into this season.