Last Thursday night the NFL gave us the Cowboys v.s Vikings, which was a surprise considering every Thursday evening the games seem to be, let’s just say not the best matchups you will find. Last week’s game turned out to be a hard hitting battle, but not a whole lot of offense.
That brings us to this week Thursday night game, which up until this point may just be the best matchup of the 2016 season. The Oakland Raiders will go to Kansas City to renew a rivalry that dates back to the old AFL. Back then you had Len Dawson battling Darryl Lamonica in classic battles that almost always went down to the wire.
This year the Matchup is a young gunslinger in Derek Carr for the Raiders and the cagey veteran who gets no respect Alex Smith for the Chiefs. Both teams fans have been long suffering as the Raiders have not had a winning season since Super Bowl 37. The Chiefs have not played in a Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1). Kansas City needs to control the clock- In the Chiefs early season win in Oakland which they won comfortably by 16 points, the Chiefs held the ball for almost 14 minutes more than the Raiders. The key to beating the Raiders is to keep the ball away from their explosive offense.
2). Is Derek Carr healthy?– Carr injured his pinky two weeks ago and last week could only take snaps from the shotgun. Will his pinky affect the way he plays in this game? I doubt it, but it is worth keeping an eye on.
3). The Raiders need to stop the run- The Raiders’ No. 1 goal on defense will be to contain the run they did not do that the last time they played the Chiefs. The Raiders run defense is probably the worst aspect of their game, evidenced by the 212 yards rushing the Buffalo Bills got on them Sunday. That was even more than the 186 the Raiders yielded to the Chiefs earlier in the season. As we said earlier, the Chiefs controlled the Raiders at the line of scrimmage the last time they played.
4). Can the Raiders RT Austin Howard handle the Raiders defensive line?- OLBs Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dee Ford, are studs and Howard maybe the weakest offensive lineman for the Raiders. The Chiefs will have to give him help with their running backs and tight ends I believe to be successful aginst the Raiders defense.
5). Chiefs TE Travis Kelce vs. Raiders SS Nate Allen- If the Raiders contain Kelce they will be limiting a huge portion of the Chiefs offense. If Kelce goes off, it will open up the wide receivers even more.
This game is as close as you can get in my book to a complete toss-up. The Chiefs handled the Raiders fairly easy out in Oakland earlier in the year, and now they are playing them at home. I do believe that the Raiders have matured as a team, and I think Derek Carr will have a big game. This game may come down to who has the ball last; I will go with the Oakland Raiders 27 Kansas City Chiefs 24