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Pick Six: How Much Will NaVorro Bowman Play Against The Chiefs?

Posted Oct 18, 2017

Here are six things to keep an eye on Thursday night when the Raiders take on the Chiefs.

Sitting at 2-4, the Oakland Raiders need a win.

That’s not breaking news by any stretch of the imagination, but now slowly approaching the halfway point of the 2017 campaign, the Silver and Black need to start stacking W’s.

As Head Coach Jack Del Rio like to say though, you have to focus on the next opponent, which in this case is a very good Kansas City Chiefs squad.

Andy Reid’s team has typically played the Raiders tough – particularly in recent years – so here are six things to keep an eye on Thursday night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

1. A new man in the middle?

General Manager Reggie McKenzie saw a need, and Monday afternoon he addressed it.

After his seven-year career with the San Francisco 49ers came to an end, the Silver and Black worked quickly, signing former All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman to the active roster.

The three-time Pro Bowler immediately adds a veteran presence to the defense, as well as an air of legitimacy into the Raiders linebacking corps, and while we won’t know for sure until Thursday night if Bowman will suit up against the Chiefs, we’ve been given every indication that he’s going to give it a shot.

In his first press conference as a Raider, Bowman said he still has a lot of juice left, so hopefully we see that in primetime against the Chiefs.

2. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

Through six games, the Raiders defense has yet to force an interception, and if they want to record their first of the year Thursday night, they’ll have their hands full trying to get one off Alex Smith.

The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback has done an outstanding job of protecting the football this season; while he has 12 passing touchdowns, he has yet to toss an interception, and that’s a big reason why the Chiefs are sitting atop the AFC West with a record of 5-1.

Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., likes to say that turnovers come in bunches, and with a minus two turnover differential, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Raiders defense to see if they can make life difficult for Alex Smith and Co.

3. Can Richard and Washington get rolling?

The good news from last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens? Running back Marshawn Lynch got rolling, finishing his Week 6 outing with 63 rushing yards, and a 4.8 yards per carry average.

The not so great news? Both Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington finished their respective days with negative yardage, and while that certainly is more the exception than the rule, it’d be good to see the Raiders complementary backs get back to their usually-productive ways.

The Kansas City defense ranks 27th in the league in stopping the run, so be sure to keep an eye on the Raiders trio of backs to see if they can take advantage.

4. Speaking of offense…

Look, we all know that the Raiders offense has been in a malaise of sorts the past few weeks, but going against a Kansas City Chiefs defense that surrenders an average of 378.2 total yards per game, there will likely be some big plays out there for the Silver and Black.

Speaking to the media earlier this week, Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing reaffirmed the collective confidence that he and his group have in their game plan, and it’s a confidence that the players themselves are echoing.

Even though the past few weeks haven’t gone as planned, there’s no reason that Derek Carr and the Raiders offense can’t get back on the right track, and put some points up in a hurry.

They certainly have the personnel to just that.

5. Enter Vadal Alexander

Marshall Newhouse didn’t practice all week, and so after Wednesday’s practice, the Raiders starting right tackle was ruled out of Thursday night’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.

With No. 73 on the shelf, second-year lineman Vadal Alexander will slide into the starting lineup with Newhouse unable to go.

WHead Coach Del Rio endorsed Alexander as the next man up at right tackle, and with five starts last year in his rookie season, the former LSU Tiger is the logical selection with Newhouse ruled out.

Whether it’s Alexander or someone else, make sure to keep an eye on the right side of the Raiders line.

6. Can the team ensure a “Victory Friday?”

It’s been over a month since the Silver and Black tasted victory, and two games under .500, with a primetime game against a divisional opponent on the docket, there’s likely not a better time to get back to their winning ways than Thursday night.

Now, make no mistake about it, the Chiefs are one of the premier teams in the NFL – they have the record and pedigree to prove it – but traveling two time zones on a short week is never an easy task to undertake.

The Raiders are desperate for a win, and the Chiefs will no doubt get the Silver and Black’s best shot; everything is a little more exciting under the lights, so I for one, can’t wait for kickoff.