The Kansas City Chiefs face the Las Vegas Raiders in the Christmas Day game. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored to win. We welcome Matt Holder of Silver and Black Pride — our sister SBNation site covering the Raiders — for Five Questions with the Enemy.
1. The Raiders are either good or bad. Why can’t they find a middle ground more often?
The Raiders have a rookie head coach, rookie offensive coordinator and rookie starting quarterback, all of whom weren’t elevated to their current positions until midseason. Antonio Pierce and Bo Hardegree are still finding their identity as coaches and Aidan O’Connell’s play has been pretty volatile from week to week, and the last two games are a perfect example. Brian Flores and the Vikings’ defense were confusing the hell out of O’Connell, and Brandon Staley and the Chargers tried to do that last Thursday but O’Connell did a good job adjusting.
It’s become frustrating because fans never know what to expect from the offense, but that kind of comes with the territory of having younger people in key spots. Defensively, they have been more consistent though as they’ve kept opponents to 21 points or less every week since Week 9, except for the Chiefs game...
2. Maxx Crosby wasn’t fit the last time these two played. How do you like his chances against Wanya Morris and Jawan Taylor?
The knee injury has certainly slowed Crosby down as he hasn’t been as dominant as he was for the first 11 games of the season and has been taken off the field more than he would like to be. But, Crosby is still playing well and I’ll take a hobbled version of him against a rookie making his third NFL start and Taylor who has struggled for the majority of the year.
I’m more concerned about the Chiefs’ short- to intermediate-passing game picking apart the Raiders’ secondary than Crosby’s effectiveness. That was the bigger problem last game as even if Crosby was completely healthy, too many receivers were wide open for the pass-rusher to make much of a difference.
3. Scoring 63 points in a single game is impressive regardless of the opponent. Who earned themselves extra playing time last week?
There were three that stood out the most; wide receiver Tre Tucker, edge rusher Malcolm Koonce and cornerback Jack Jones.
Tucker scored his first and second NFL touchdowns and has proven to be a decent vertical threat over the last few weeks, so I think he’ll get a bigger opportunity to round out the season. He’d actually be a great fit in Kansas City’s receiving corps as his biggest issue is securing catches...sorry, had to say it! LOL.
Koonce has been on fire lately as he’s racked up four or more pressures in five straight games, per Pro Football Focus, and has been one of PFF’s highest-graded edge defenders during that time frame. Last week was the best game of his career as he recorded two strip-sacks, both of which led to touchdowns. He’s not great against the run but hopefully, he’ll get more opportunities to prove himself moving forward.
Jones has only been with the team for a little more than a month and Week 12 was the first time he saw a significant amount of playing time with the Raiders. He had several nice plays in coverage against the Chargers, including an impressive pick-six, and is a willing run defender which is a nice change of pace after what they were getting from Marcus Peters.
4. What would a win in Arrowhead do for Antonio Pierce’s chance of landing the big job?
It’d be a big boost to his odds as it would be his first win against a quality opponent. Pierce’s victories so far have been against the two bad New York teams and the Chargers, who had clearly quit on Brandon Staley. Plus, he doesn’t have a road win yet, and getting the job done in a hostile environment would be a nice feather in his cap. Since AP was named interim head coach, I’ve been saying the Raiders need to finish close to the .500 mark to be retained and they’d be 7-8 by pulling off the upset this weekend with matchups against the Colts and Broncos to finish the regular season.
5. The Chiefs are double-digit favorites. How do you expect this game to play out? Will we get Jekyll or Hyde?
I think the Raiders will come out of the gates swinging and be competitive early like last game, partially because I think a Christmas morning kickoff favors the road team as they should have fewer distractions for the game itself since they’re removed from their families. But the Chiefs also have more talent and better coaching which will eventually be the difference on the scoreboard. I’ll be a homer and say the Raiders cover, however, I’d be surprised if they win outright.
Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions by clicking here.