Oakland Raiders: Keys To Victory Over Kansas City Chiefs

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Nov 22, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) catches a first quarter pass against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Take Away the Chiefs Offense — Both Options

In addition to shutting down the two headed running beast that is Chacandrick West and Spencer Ware, the Raiders will also need to shut down Alex Smith’s two main weapons on offense – Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce. Shut them down and Kansas City is done for.

Is shutting down Kansas City’s offense as simple as shutting down West/Ware, Maclin, and Kelce? The answer to that is a resounding yes.

If you can shut down the running game and force Smith to put the team on his shoulders, you can just about guarantee that he’s going one of two places – Maclin or Kelce. Of Smith’s 226 completions on the year, he’s thrown just a tick under 50 percent of those to Maclin (57 receptions) or Kelce (54 receptions). If you factor in Jamaal Charles – still third on Kansas City’s receivers list – and the percentage of Smith’s passes to those three players rises to about 58 percent.

Very nearly sixty percent of your passing offense’s production in the hands of just three players? That’s a recipe for disaster – especially when the player with the third most receptions on your team has been out for six weeks.

The Raiders’ pass defense has been trending in the right direction the last couple of weeks. With Nate Allen returning to his spot in the defensive backfield – along with the demotion of D.J. Hayden (finally!), the Raiders’ secondary has played some good football the last couple of weeks. Free agent pick up David Amerson, cut by Washington earlier in the season, had an absolutely lights out game against the Titans last week. He also did a pretty fantastic job of shadowing Calvin Johnson the week before.

With ten passes defensed and an interception in the last two games, Amerson looks to be a huge addition on the defensive side of the ball. Paired with Travis Carrie on the other corner, Allen and the ageless wonder, Charles Woodson playing safety at a very high level, the Raiders defensive backfield is looking like it can be pretty good.

Amerson and Carrie are going to have to have equally strong efforts against Maclin and whoever else is playing receiver for the Chiefs – not that they’re going to see a lot of action. This will also help free up a player like Taylor Mays to shadow Kelce since Oakland’s linebackers have been having serious trouble in coverage and rookie Neiron Ball – who’d been proving to be incredible in the role – out again for this game. Mays and the linebackers have been doing a very good job of shutting down the tight ends as well as the short/intermediate routes.

The Raiders have the pieces in place – pieces who have been playing very well – to take away not just Kansas City’s run game, but their only real source of offense – Maclin and Kelce. They’ll need to execute just as well as they did against Tennessee and in some respect, Detroit the week before.

If they can do that, and shut down those three primary – and seemingly only – weapons in the Chiefs arsenal, the Raiders are going to be in a very good position to win the game.

Next: Keep It Rolling