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Key Matchups: The Raiders can't allow Patrick Mahomes to keep his jersey clean


Ladies and gentlemen, it's rivalry week.

The Las Vegas Raiders will be seeing red this Sunday at home against the Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off a tightly contested victory over the 7-2 Green Bay Packers. This will be the two AFC West rivals' first matchup this season after splitting their two-game series last year. The Chiefs' loss to the Silver and Black in 2020 was also their lone defeat in the regular season. It will be another hard fought game between the two foes, especially with the players the Raiders have added to their roster since they last played each other.

Here are this week's key matchups for the Week 10 primetime showdown.

Living off the edge

In Training Camp when Yannick Ngakoue said he and Maxx Crosby were about to be the best new duo on the scene, it was no cap.

The edge-rushing duo has been monstrous together this season, combining for 11 sacks and 31 quarterback hits, and have both earned an AFC Defensive Player of the Week nod.

These two will have to get after Patrick Mahomes this Sunday in order to come out with the win. Mahomes is currently top three in the league in pass completions and pass touchdowns, however, he's also top three in the league in interceptions. Mahomes also has his lowest quarterback rating in his entire career since becoming the Chiefs' starting quarterback in 2018.

Last season when the Raiders defeated the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium 40-32, Crosby had a sack and two quarterback hits. Now with a Pro Bowl caliber edge rusher next to him, the sky is the limit for them at home against the former NFL MVP.

The 'Bama Boys vs. Chiefs' run defense

One of the detriments of this Chiefs team is their run defense. That could be a huge problem for them considering how well the Raiders' backfield has been playing recently.

Through nine games, Kansas City has allowed the fourth-most rushing yards per attempt and rushing first downs this season. Additionally, they've allowed the fifth-most total rushing yards in the league. The Raiders have gotten their run game going in the past few games, largely in part to the steady improvement of center Andre James – who had a 83.1 PFF grade vs. the New York Giants. The offensive line has also been seeing big things from their first-round pick Alex Leatherwood since he moved from tackle to guard.

Over the past three games, Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake together have averaged 97 rushing yards per game. They've also scored four rushing touchdowns in that span. With the Chiefs' struggles of stopping the run and Drake and Josh finding their groove together as a backfield tandem, it shouldn't be too hard to guess what the Silver and Black game plan will be this Sunday.

D-Jax vs. The Honey Badger

The Raiders have a new wide receiver in the locker room – you may have heard his name before.

DeSean Jackson, three-time Pro Bowler, is now in the Silver and Black. Jackson will be a key piece in the Raiders offense as a deep threat. His speed should always be accounted for when he's on the field as he's currently averaging 27.6 yards per catch this season. He can also open up the middle of the field for Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Bryan Edwards.

"We all have a lot of respect for his career and what he's done, and I can remember him coming out," Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia said Monday. "So, we are excited about getting another speed element out there to be a complement to what we are trying to do on offense, certainly with the speed that Zay [Jones] has and what Bryan [Edwards] and Hunter bring to us. It will be good for us to get another speed element going on offense."

The player that will be accounting for Jackson deep down the field will more than likely be the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu was a First-Team All-Pro safety last season and is tied for the most interceptions on his team with two. Even with the dynamic play Mathieu brings to the reigning AFC Champions, the Chiefs have allowed the fourth-most passing first downs and the fifth-most passing yards this season.

Meanwhile, Derek Carr is third in the league in passing yards (2,565) but has thrown seven interceptions. Despite Jackson only being on the Raiders roster for a few days, it's hard to imagine him not being a part of the Raiders' pass attack this Sunday.

View director of photography Michael Clemens' top picks of black and white photos from the Raiders' Week 9 matchup against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

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