On Monday Night Football, the Kansas City Chiefs face the Las Vegas Raiders. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Chiefs are favored by seven points. We welcome contributor Matt Holder of Silver and Black Pride — our sister SBNation site covering the Raiders — for Five Questions with the Enemy.
1) How important was it for the Raiders to get off the mark on Sunday?
Let me put it this way: I would have started covering the draft in October if they would have lost. The Raiders dug themselves into a massive hole through the first three weeks of the season and managed to creep closer to daylight with the win against the Denver Broncos — but they are still closer to drafting first overall than making the playoffs. Luckily, they still have a chance to beat the odds and go to the tournament, but the season would have essentially been over in Las Vegas had the game gone differently.
2) The Raiders gashed the Broncos on the ground. Is establishing the run important to Josh McDaniels?
The running game — and running backs as a whole — have always been a big part of McDaniels’ offenses, so I’m sure that’s important to him. But Josh Jacobs is also playing out of his mind right now and has looked like one of their best offensive players — including Davante Adams. Jacobs just wasn’t able to get the volume of touches to put up the eye-popping volume stats in the first three weeks because the Raiders have been playing from behind so much.
For example, Jacobs had 144 rushing yards on 28 carries last week which comes out to about 5.1 yards per rush. That’s objectively a good average — and he’s only been below that mark in one out of four games — but in the other two contests, he had 23 combined carries. He also ranks second in the NFL with 22 missed tackles forced (per PFF), so I definitely think McDaniels is going to try and feed Jacobs on Monday night — and as much as possible throughout the year.
3) From the outside, it looks like the Raiders have a bit of a no-name defense. Who are the unknown defenders who could swing the game?
Assuming that Nate Hobbs is one of your three, I’ll go with Tre’von Moehrig and Duron Harmon.
Mahomes shredded the Raiders last year because then-defensive coordinator Gus Bradley stuck with his Cover 3/one-high approach to the game plan. Part of that was Bradley’s stubbornness — but that was also a personnel issue, as Las Vegas only had one defensive back on the roster who could play as a deep safety: Moehrig. Adding Harmon — and swapping Bradley out for Patrick Graham — should allow the Raiders to play those Cover 2 shells that have given Mahomes some trouble in the past. That could be one of the biggest differences between last year’s games and this year’s — especially since Harmon has looked solid so far.
4) We know about Davante Adams and Darren Waller, but is there an offensive weapon of which we are unaware — one who be an anytime touchdown scorer?
I don’t know if an ‘anytime touchdown scorer’ is the right description — since he doesn’t have a lot of speed — but I’d say Mack Hollins. A couple of weeks ago, Hollins had a career day where he went for 158 yards and a touchdown and had the most targets on the team. He’s been pretty solid this year as the guy defenses will forget about with Adams and Waller — and Hunter Renfrow when healthy — and Hollins is a big-bodied red-zone threat to whom Carr loves to throw 50/50 balls, so they’ve had pretty good chemistry right off the bat.
5) Chiefs-Raiders on Monday Night Football with the Raiders as 7-point underdogs on DraftKings Sportsbook: what’s going to happen?
Obviously, I want to say that the Raiders are on the right track after getting the ‘W’ last week and can pull off the upset, but I just can’t believe it. Had the Chiefs not just blown out a really good Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, maybe I’d have more optimism. The Chiefs win by at least two possessions and cover, sadly. That being said, I’m 0-3 when picking the Raiders and 0-1 when picking against them, so I’m hoping I’m just the jinx!
Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions on Silver and Black Pride.