Here are the game’s winners and losers:
- Less than a month ago, I wrote a brief post-game story about how tight end Travis Kelce and running back Kareem Hunt returned to their shared hometown of Cleveland and were the only Chiefs to score in the game. Time is fleeting and life comes fast, and there were Kelce and the Chiefs in Oakland on Sunday without Hunt, now released. In poetic fashion, just like in Hunt’s first game as a Chief, Kelce fumbled away his first opportunity of the game and followed it up with the game of his career. Kelce finished Sunday’s game with single-game career highs in both receptions (12) and receiving yards (168) and he had two touchdowns. During a game in which the offense seemed incredibly out of sync, Kelce became the go-to for Patrick Mahomes, and in the process, became the second tight end in NFL history to have three consecutive seasons with 1,000 receiving yards (Greg Olsen, 2014-16). Kelce has 31 receiving touchdowns since the start of 2014, second-most in the league among tight ends in that span (Rob Gronkowski has 36).
- Mahomes, though he did have miscues, was another winner on Sunday.
After last week’s games, national media shifted MVP focus from Mahomes to Drew Brees. But after a Brees loss on Thursday night to the Dallas Cowboys and the performance Mahomes put together despite those aforementioned miscues, he was a winner on Sunday. Mahomes finished his game against the Raiders 23 of 38 for 295 yards and four passing touchdowns, as well as nine rushing attempts for 52 yards. He was the Chiefs’ leading rusher in the game.
- And though they weren’t the leading rushers, Spencer Ware and Damien Williams deserve praise for stepping into an offensive game plan not designed for them on short notice and performing adequately enough for the Chiefs win.
CBS' Evan Washburn just said Andy Reid told him the Chiefs eventually want a three-man committee between Ware, Damien Williams and Darrel Williams.— Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) December 2, 2018
The new committee of Ware and Williams finished with 19 combined carries for 85 yards and Ware scored a touchdown via a crafty direct snap in the game.
- It was good for the Chiefs to get center Mitch Morse back in the lineup. Morse had missed seven weeks after suffering a concussion Week 6 against the New England Patriots. Morse and the Chiefs offensive line prevented any sacks of Mahomes, but since he did take a few rough shots, it will be interesting to see how many pressures the Raiders tallied on Mahomes.
- Chris Conley and Demetrius Harris each had a touchdown in the game. Conley is doing a nice job filling in for the injured Sammy Watkins (foot) over the last two games. Conley has three touchdowns in that span. That is half of Conley’s career touchdowns, as he has six total. Harris’ touchdown catch was especially impressive, as he split two Raiders defenders to snatch it out of the air in between them. Adding to the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry, Conley was reportedly whistling “The Autumn Wind” in the locker room after the game.
- The Chiefs defense, as a whole, did not have a great week, but the bright spots that we know of were bright once again. Dee Ford and Allen Bailey shared a sack and Ford had one more, forcing his sixth fumble of the season. With 1.5 sacks in the game, Ford now has 10.5 sacks on the season, a career-high. Ford had three total quarterback hits in the game. Bailey also added a forced fumble of Raiders running back Doug Martin, which was recovered by Justin Houston. Ford and Bailey are due to become unrestricted free agents this offseason.
- Defensive lineman Chris Jones recorded a sack in his eighth consecutive game, and he now has 10.0 sacks on the season, also a career-high. The Chiefs say with Ford and Jones recording 10-plus sacks each on the season, the Chiefs now have two defensive players with 10.0 sacks are more for the first time since 2013, when Tamba Hali and Justin Houston had 11.0 each.
- Kendall Fuller and Jarvis Jenkins were each credited with a forced fumble in the game.
- On the Raiders side, Derek Carr had a great game, going 29 of 38 for 285 yards and three touchdowns. It has to feel good if you’re a Chiefs fan when the opposing quarterback plays a great game but Mahomes is just better, especially given the sudden circumstances of this week. I thought this before the Raiders game, but Jalen Richard, in my opinion, is a better option for Oakland than Doug Martin. Richard had six carries for 95 yards while Martin had 18 carries for 61 yards. Jared Cook (seven receptions for 100 yards) and Jordy Nelson (10 receptions for 97 yards) were the top receivers for Carr.
- The defenses on both sides left more to be desired on Sunday. So goes the new NFL, but the Chiefs and Raiders gave up a total of 911 yards on Sunday, the Chiefs giving up 442 of those yards. The Chiefs’ third-down defense, something defensive coordinator Bob Sutton stresses during weekly press conferences, was poor. The Raiders were 9 of 12 (75 percent) on third down on Sunday.
- We’ll get a second watch this week, but upon first look, the Chiefs safeties, especially Eric Murray, and the Chiefs inside linebackers, namely Anthony Hitchens, appeared to struggle. On the former, Eric Berry should be back soon and there is a case to be made for Jordan Lucas, and on the latter, perhaps Hitchens’ recent rib issues and in-game quad injury held him back a bit.
- Tyreek Hill has been outstanding all year and is a top receiver in the league—there is no doubt about that. He came into Sunday with just three drops on the year, but he had a few Sunday, and he seemed a bit out of sync with Mahomes. It’s rare to see Hill struggle, so I’d consider Sunday’s showing an outlier. Mahomes targeted Hill six times but he only came away with one reception for 13 yards.
- I can’t fathom why Jon Gruden and the Raiders decision-makers would trade Khalil Mack when he makes plays like this:
That Khalil Mack long arm— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) December 3, 2018
Just ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/8tF3AABf3X
In a sense, like the Chiefs with Mahomes, you just don’t find talent like that. I can’t blame them for trading wide receiver Amari Cooper, given the compensation of a first-round pick for a player in dire need of a change of scenery, but I just cannot understand why the Raiders gave away Mack. They lost to the Chiefs by a touchdown on Sunday. Perhaps if Mack is still a Raider, they win.