Raiders.com Senior Editor Jerry Knaak poses five questions heading into each week's matchup. In the wake of the Oakland Raiders 34-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, here are the answers to this week's queries.
1. Homefield advantage?
As I mentioned last week, the Raiders have had quite a bit of trouble on the road the past few seasons, and when they've won, they've won at home. Not the case this season. The Raiders are 3-3 on the road and now 2-4 at home. The Raiders were in decent position in Week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings and ended up on the wrong end of a 30-14 score. In Week 13, the Raiders were in pretty good shape against the Chiefs until quarterback Derek Carr threw three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, in the fourth quarter. The Raiders head to Denver to take on the Broncos this week. We'll see how they fare on the road.
2. Which offense will show up?
The offense played well in spurts. The first drive of the game was impressive as the Raiders took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field as they mixed the run and the pass. The Raiders led 14-7 at halftime after safety Charles Woodson's second fumble recovery of the day and subsequent return gave them good field position and set up a wide receiver Michael Crabtree touchdown catch. The Raiders rushed for 99 yards on the day, with running back Latavius Murray leading the way with 86 yards on 20 carries. Carr completed 31 of 48 for 283 yards, 2 TDs and 3 INTs. Too many three-and-outs and the uncharacteristic 4th quarter interceptions ruined the Raiders chances.
3.Who will take the ball away?
This was looking good in the Raiders favor as linebacker Malcolm Smith stripped wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and safety Charles Woodson recovered, and then Woodson stripped tight end Travis Kelce, recovered it and raced into Chiefs territory setting up a Raiders touchdown. The Chiefs hadn't turned the ball over since Oct. 18 and the Raiders ended that streak. However, the Chiefs won the turnover battle, 3, as the Raiders made critical mistakes in the 4th quarter that led directly to 20 unanswered Chiefs points.
4. Who will be able to run the ball?
The Raiders had the early success as Murray ripped off a 35-yard gain and scored on a 2-yard dive on the opening drive. The Chiefs managed 89 yards on the ground and running backs Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware were held in check for the most part. A 19-yard quarterback Alex Smith scramble hurt, but the ground game wasn't that much of a factor for the Chiefs. Murray is the AFC's leading rusher, and is 4th in the NFL with 851 yards on 199 carries.
5. Which pass rush/offensive line battle will affect the outcome?
This was another matchup that seemed tilted in the Raiders favor most of the game. The Raiders sacked Smith 4 times and harassed him much of the game. However, by the time the finals stats were tallied, the Chiefs had 4 sacks as well, as they dropped Carr on the last two plays of the game. One of the sacks was a Carr step out of bounds for no gain. Linebacker Derrick Johnson was the closest Chief, so he got credit. Numerous times the Raiders offensive line pushed the rush past Carr and he was able to climb the pocket and complete passes downfield. But the Chiefs rush was a factor on the screen pass intended for Roy Helu, Jr., that was intercepted and returned to the Raiders 2-yard line. The Raiders pass rush has really come on of late with Khalil Mack leading the way with 9 of the team's 29 sacks.