Editor’s note: As we head into Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Las Vegas Raiders, we welcome Matt Holder of Silver and Black Pride — our sister SBNation site covering the Las Vegas Raiders — for Five Questions with the Enemy.
1) Has Raider Nation given up hopes of a playoff berth, or is there a reason for hope?
Since the Raiders are still mathematically in it, there are a few fans who are holding on to hope, but I’d say most are already looking ahead to next year. It’s been a wild season, both on and off the field, and that combined with an impending collapse down the stretch for the third year in a row has diminished the confidence in the team within the fanbase. An upset this week could inject life back into Raider Nation, but I don’t think anyone is holding their breath for that.
2) The offense has stalled of late (outside of the Cowboys game). What’s been the cause?
I wish I could nail it down to one or two things for you, but it’s just been a whirlwind of miscues.
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s playcalling has been questionable and it seems like opponents have easily figured out what he’s trying to do. Derek Carr has played up and down and can’t seem to find the balance between forcing the ball deep and checking it down, as he did at the beginning of the year, and he hasn’t looked the same without Henry Ruggs in the lineup.
Wide receivers are struggling to get open and having Darren Waller out didn’t help matters last week, and he won’t play this Sunday either. The offensive line has been an issue for the entire year and while they’ve actually played a little better recently, they still aren’t good enough consistently and collectively, and they struggle to run block which makes it hard to get Josh Jacobs going.
All of that plus a few other issues have led to some major red-zone woes in recent weeks and the explosive plays aren’t there either.
3) What do you think the Raiders will do differently this time around against the Chiefs?
I think - or hope - they’ll mix up their coverages more often. Gus Bradley is known as a cover three guru, but he stuck to that a too much last time against the Chiefs. I’d like to see him stick to the two-high coverages that have been giving Patrick Mahomes trouble all year and use a wider variety of coverages throughout the game to keep Mahomes on his toes.
The only question will be if the Raiders have the personnel to run that much two-high, but they have to try something else because we all saw how it turned out when they didn’t. The way I look at it is if you’re going to give up 40, at least do so while trying something different instead of playing out the definition of insanity.
4) Who do you want to be the next Raiders head coach and why?
I’m pretty open to head coach options right now, but if I had to pick it would be someone who Chiefs fans and Andy Reid know well, Doug Pederson. I think Pederson got kind of a raw deal at the end of his tenure in Philadelphia, and he has a proven track record of success that includes a Lombardi trophy. The Eagles also made the playoffs three times and won the division twice in five years under Pederson’s tutelage, and it’d be nice to have someone who has inside knowledge on Reids’ offense that the Raiders can’t seem to figure out.
5) How does this one play out? Score prediction?
I think it will be closer than a lot of people expect and the Raiders will cover the two-possession spread, but the Chiefs still win 28-24.
Ultimately, I don’t trust Las Vegas’ defense to consistently stop Mahomes and Kansas City’s offense, but I do think they can at least slow them down the second time around. Offensively, I’m kind of going on a whim here and just hoping that at some point they’ll be able to break through and at least put a respectable number on the scoreboard. I’m not holding out much hope though if you can’t tell.
Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions by clicking here.