1. Road-field advantage
A very intriguing stat to look at going into the Raiders' road trip to Kansas City is how much success they've had on the road recently.
Over the past two seasons, the Raiders are 9-4 on the road – including their 40-32 victory over the Chiefs last year in Arrowhead. Their home record, in contrast, has been 5-10. While it may be peculiar that the Silver and Black don't have as much success in their own building, this gives them an edge going into their rematch with the Chiefs.
"Obviously we like playing away and that's not really a good thing because we'd love to be able to defend our house and make that a place people don't want to come play," Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia said Wednesday. "But since we've been here, we've had some favor on the road for whatever those reasons are."
"I honestly have always loved playing there," Derek Carr said about playing in Kansas City. "It's just such a cool atmosphere just as a football player to get to play in and hear their chant and all that kind of stuff. Their fans aren't so nice to us, but still, it's a really cool atmosphere to be in. It's super loud. I've always liked playing in loud stadiums anyway because it's more, you are just in your own helmet. You don't have to hear anything else or any of the chatter, you just play football, and I've enjoyed that."
2. This week's top injuries
For a second straight week, the Raiders will be without one of their team captains.
Darren Waller has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Chiefs, as he's still day to day with a knee/back injury. Defensive end Carl Nassib has also been ruled out, and the team's leading tackler Denzel Perryman is listed as doubtful. With the absence of those three, expect a heavy dose of guys like Foster Moreau, Malcolm Koonce and Divine Deablo. Moreau has three receiving touchdowns this season, while Koonce and Deablo combined for 12 total tackles and a sack against the Washington Football Team.
As for the Chiefs, they will be without cornerback Chris Lammons on Sunday.
3. Mullen Island back in service
The return of the Raiders starting cornerback is looking more likely.
Trayvon Mullen Jr. resumed practice with the team after being removed from IR last week. Mullen has been out of action since Week 4 after sustaining a toe injury. All signs are pointing towards him returning to play the Chiefs this Sunday after being a full participant in practice all this week and not being listed on the injury report. Before his injury – Mullen had 14 solo tackles, four pass deflections and an interception this season.
"He's very sharp. He understands principles," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said about Mullen. "He plays at a high speed. As physical traits, he's got really good length. I think that part of it. Like [Brandon] Facyson has good length and when you have a corner that has length, they trust that they can play at the line of scrimmage more. So, that part of it. He's sharp. He's on the details and he really has a sense of confidence, and he brings that to the group."
4. Next back up
The Raiders lost a key piece to their offense last Sunday when Kenyan Drake went down with an ankle injury that will keep him out the rest of the season. With the absence of Drake, the rest of the backfield will be asked to step up to aid Josh Jacobs.
To replace the production of Drake, the Silver and Black will look to Peyton Barber and Jalen Richard. Barber, when called upon for more carries, has proven to be a hot commodity, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. Additionally, the Raiders could potentially elevate Trey Ragas from the practice squad – the undrafted rookie who shined in the preseason.
"As you know, Jalen didn't practice today, but he's with us on the Zoom meetings," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Thursday. "Jalen has been in and out on the entire season. But we always say when one man goes down, someone else has to step up. As we saw Ragas in the preseason, we were high on him as a rookie, and he may have an opportunity this week as well. For any position really, when someone goes down, it's always that next man up mentality."
Fullback Sutton Smith might get more snaps this week as he's getting more comfortable in the offense – filling in Alec Ingold, who tore his ACL against the Chiefs in Week 10.
5. Another installment of Carr vs. Mahomes
Both of these teams' success depends a lot on their quarterbacks.
Carr is 6-0 in games this season when he's thrown for over 300 yards, while Patrick Mahomes is 3-1 under the same circumstances. Carr, however, is 0-6 when he doesn't reach the 300 yard mark, while in every game the Chiefs have lost this season, Mahomes has thrown at least one interception.
6. Stopping the run in Arrowhead
The run defense for the Raiders is trending in the right direction. After allowing an average of 133.5 rushing yards in their first eight games this season, the total has decreased to an average of 107.2 rushing yards over the past four games. That includes giving up less than four yards a carry to running backs Antonio Gibson and Ezekiel Elliot over the past two games, and holding the Chiefs to 94 total rushing yards in Week 10.
The Chiefs run attack has struggled a bit over the past few games, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire batting injuries through this season. During their current five-game winning streak, they've averaged short of 100 rushing yards a game. If the Raiders can take away the run game completely from the Chiefs, that would help in how they try to limit Mahomes in the pocket.
"I think we could be even better. I think we could be even better as a run defense," said linebacker KJ Wright. "It all starts upfront with shutting down those running backs. When you tackle these guys, they stop and go the opposite direction. So just keep preaching that. They'll run it too, so just knock that out early and try to make these guys one dimensional. Really good defenses are really good against the run."
Take an exclusive look at practice as the Silver and Black prepare for their Week 14 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.