Each week Raiders.com Senior Editor Jerry Knaak poses five questions heading into each matchup. As the Raiders get set to host the Kansas City Chiefs, here are this week's queries.
1. Homefield advantage?
The Raiders have had trouble on the road the past several seasons, especially in the Eastern time zone. However, the Raiders have played better on the road this season than they have at home at O.co Coliseum in Oakland. The Raiders are 3-3 on the road and 2-3 at home, and their two biggest losses have come in Oakland. The Chiefs are 3-3 on the road this season. O.co Coliseum will need to be rocking, and the Raiders will need to play extremely well to defeat a team that has won five in a row.
*2. Which offense will show up? *
In the Raiders wins this season, quarterback Derek Carr has surpassed 300 yards passing and at least one receiver goes over 100 yards. The Silver and Black attack went three games straight with over 400 yards of total offense and scored more than 30 points per game. However, the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings were able to keep Carr and Co., in check in the last two games of a three-game losing streak for the Raiders. Carr has certainly had more success throwing the ball down the field, which opens things up for the running game.
3. Who will take the ball away?
The Kansas City Chiefs are 12 while the Raiders are -1 when it comes to turnovers. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has thrown a paltry three interceptions. The Raiders picked Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota twice last week. Smith hasn't thrown an interception since Week 3 at Green Bay. The Raiders have 11 picks on the season, with safety Charles Woodson leading the way with five. Carr has only thrown six interceptions this season, while the Chiefs have snagged 14. Turnovers should play a major factor in this game.
4. Who will be able to run the ball?
When Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending injury, many expected the Chiefs to fold. Quite the opposite has happened as Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware have picked up the slack. Kansas City has rushed for 1,367 yards as a team this season. For the Raiders, Latavius Murray has had his ups and downs as the team's bell cow back as the Raiders have rushed for 1,057 yards as a team. Less than 100 yards separates these two teams when it comes to total offense. The Raiders pass it a little better, while the Chiefs run it a little better.
5. Which pass rush/offensive line battle will affect the outcome?
Chiefs linebacker and sack artist Justin Houston has been ruled out for this game, while Raiders sack leader Khalil Mack seems to be heating up. The Chiefs have recorded 30 sacks on the season, while the Raiders have 25. The Raiders have allowed 14, while the Chiefs have yielded 35. The Raiders did a nice job against Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota last week sacking him twice and allowing just seven yards on one scramble. Smith has rushed for 303 yards on 55 carries. The Raiders will have to contain Smith and keep Carr clean. A storyline we've been tracking this week - former Chief Rodney Hudson is doubtful for this game. This is something we'll continue to monitor.