If there was ever a matchup that could drastically impact the Oakland Raiders playoff hopes, it's this one.
The Silver and Black are 6-5, just one game back in the AFC West of the Kansas City Chiefs who sit at 7-4, and winning at Arrowhead Stadium would do wonders for the team's postseason chances; however, winning in Kansas City has been challenging.
The last time the Raiders won in Kansas City, Derek Carr was in his junior year at Fresno State. It was October 28, 2012 and the Raiders defeated the Chiefs 26-16. Since Derek Carr became the starting quarterback in 2014, he's struggled to notch his first win in the frozen tundra of Kansas City, but perhaps he overcomes what's been the biggest hurdle of his career this Sunday.
If the Raiders are to win on Sunday, here are three matchups they need to handle:
Jon Gruden vs. Andy Reid
At the start of their NFL coaching careers in the '90s, both Gruden and Reid served as members of the Green Bay Packers coaching staff under Head Coach Mike Holmgren. The two worked side by side from 1992 to 1995, Reid as a quarterbacks coach and Gruden as the offensive assistant/wide receivers coach before the former became the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Gruden and Reid have both learned similar coaching styles over the years, and both are masterminds at their craft. Off the field, the former colleagues are friends, but when it comes to gameday it's no holds barred. So far, Reid has gotten the best of Gruden in his return to the Raiders, and I know this Sunday's matchup is one Gruden wants real bad.
The Chiefs are coming off of a bye, and Andy Reid has a career record of 17-3 following a week off. There's no denying that both Gruden and Reid have put in countless hours of preparation, but Reid had an extra week to do so. This Sunday's matchup will feature two of the best coaching minds in the game, and I'm excited to see what tricks they have up their sleeve.
Trayvon Mullen vs. Tyreek Hill
When the Raiders and the Chiefs last squared off in Week 2, Trayvon Mullen wasn't seeing extended playing time and Tyreek Hill was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Now, Mullen has established himself as one of the Raiders' impressive young studs, and Hill is healthy and back to his old tricks, and the two will lock horns for the first time this Sunday.
As far as speed goes, no one is catching Tyreek Hill in an all out sprint, but the athletic Mullen seems like the ideal fit to try and stay in stride with the Pro Bowler. Hill is coming off back-to-back games with at least one touchdown and 140 yards, so it's safe to say he's currently a man on a mission . Mullen has faced some talented receivers since getting his first start in Week 8, but none have had breakaway speed like Hill. With one interception and four passes defensed to his name, the former Clemson Tiger will need to be on his best behavior in Week 13.
Josh Jacobs vs. Chiefs' run defense
Last week, the Offensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner faced his toughest test yet in the New York Jets' front seven, who allow the least amount of rushing yards per game. This week, Jacobs will face an opponent he knows all too well, and the Chiefs are allowing the third-most rushing yards per game through 12 weeks (143.1).
There's no reason to rehash what occurred at MetLife this past Sunday, but after putting up 34 yards on 10 carries, you know Jacobs will try to rebound in a big way. When he first faced the division-rival Chiefs Week 2, the rookie rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries – talk about an efficient day. The Raiders know their identity, and it's to pound the rock regardless of whether their opponent knows it's coming or not. The offensive line has been stellar this season, but with a couple of rough games recently, I expect Jacobs and the big fellas blocking for him to take advantage of the matchup.