Last week, my keys to victory were pretty simple, but the Raiders drilled them home. Protect Derek Carr? He could wear the same jersey this week, his line kept it that clean. Attack vertically? Carr found Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams downfield on multiple occasions, even without whatshisface. And finally, stop the run? They didn’t allow give up 60 yards to any of Denver’s backs and kept the entire team under 100 total. This week, they get the Kansas City Chiefs, who are slightly more intimidating than the Broncos, so what do they need to do to go 2-0?
Oakland Raiders Keys to Victory: Week Two (2019)
Control the Clock/Play 60 Minutes
I can’t stress this enough, time of possession is the most important non-scoring stat in football. Every second the Raiders have the ball is a second that Patrick Mahomes doesn’t, that the defense isn’t on the field, and that Oakland has a chance to score. The Raiders are uniquely positioned to actually be able to pull this off with relative ease.
The Raiders front five were able to man-handle Denver’s fierce front seven last week, even with starters Richie Incognito and Gabe Jackson out, and Kansas City’s unit isn’t anywhere near as good. The Raiders could hypothetically come out and just run it down Kansas City’s throat with Josh Jacobs, occasionally hitting the play action bombs to Tyrell Williams, Darren Waller, or even J.J. Nelson.
Controlling the clock is important, but so is playing the game out. Last week, the Raiders played 30 minutes of nearly flawless football, only to slip up a bit in the second half. This was something they had a nasty habit of doing in 2018, letting several late-game leads turn into losses. The Raiders have to play smart, physical, mistake-free football.
Beat the Chiefs up, don’t give them opportunities to score too many points, and don’t make it easy on them.
I know that Raider Nation doesn’t want to hear this, but the Chiefs are a better team than the Raiders. The Chiefs are unanimously top three on just about every power ranking you can find, and they don’t make a ton of mistakes. Patrick Mahomes is still playing like the league’s MVP and even without Tyreek Hill, they can put up a ton of points.
The Raiders need to go above and beyond to win this game. They need to risk it on fourth and short, they need to take their shots downfield, and they need to do whatever it takes to get in position to score and come away with six points. Punting around the 50 and settling for field goals will not get the job done in this game.
The Raiders defense looked much, much improved last week, but especially missing Johnathan Abram, the Chiefs are still going to move up and down the field, Jon Gruden will have to take some calculated risks and do whatever it takes to keep up.
Limit Explosive Plays
On Monday night, the Raiders held Denver to one score in four attempts in the redzone, and even if one was a dropped score, that’s impressive. The Chiefs don’t have anywhere near the same rushing attack that Denver does, even if they do have the NFL’s best tight end in Travis Kelce. The Raiders have a much better chance of winning if they learn from Jacksonville’s mistakes and prevent those huge chunk plays.
The Jaguars gave up four passing plays of at least 20 yards, with two going to touchdowns. The game was actually pretty close early, with the Jaguars keeping the game within ten points, even after Nick Foles went down early. Sure, the Raiders don’t have Jacksonville’s defense, but the Jags don’t have Oakland’s offense.
If the Raiders can force the Chiefs to be physical and earn it in the redzone, they have a chance to come out on top. And man, imagine the headlines if the “circus” went 2-0 to start the season.