If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s exactly what happened when the Chiefs welcomed the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium in their first meeting back in Week 5. Instead, Las Vegas showed the defending champions that they aren’t invincible, as they came away with a 40-32 win in what is so far Kansas City’s only loss this season.
As with their first meeting, the Chiefs have also won four straight heading into the game, including a 33-31 victory over a Carolina Panthers team that was mostly able to keep in step with them in their Week 9 game. Aside from the Raiders, the Panthers were the only other team to score more than 30 points against Kansas City.
The Chiefs’ offense remains as deadly as ever, but if they are to win their ninth game of the season, they need to be able to slow down the Raiders’ offense, which has scored 30 points in back to back games against the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos. On the other hand, Kansas City could be facing a shorthanded Las Vegas defense, with seven more players added to the team’s COVID-19 list just days before the game. Here are four things that could happen when the Chiefs visit the Allegiant Stadium to take on the Raiders:
1. Patrick Mahomes passes for three touchdowns
With Russell Wilson cooling off in the Seattle Seahawks’ recent games, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has emerged as the frontrunner for the NFL MVP despite his team being on a bye week. Through nine games, the reigning Super Bowl MVP has completed 220 of 329 passes for 2687 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns and just one interception. That lone takeaway, however, came in the loss against the Raiders, in a game where he also completed 22 of 43 passes for 340 and two touchdowns.
Part of the 25-year old’s motivation is avoid a season sweep at the hands of their division rivals, per ESPN’s Adam Teicher.
“Any time you lose to anyone, the next time you play them you want to win the football game. We’ll be ready to go, I promise you that…We don’t like losing to teams twice, so we’ll have the right mindset.’’
The 2018 NFL MVP has thrown three or more touchdowns in four of the Chiefs’ nine games, including a five touchdown performance against the New York Jets in Week 8 and four touchdowns against the Panthers in Week 9. If Mahomes were to have a similar performance, it’s likely to come against a Raiders defense that allows an average of 264.9 passing yards per game, which ranks just 25th in the league.
2. Travis Kelce has another big game and scores a touchdown
Through nine games, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has 58 receptions for 769 yards and six touchdowns, and is on pace to match his output in past seasons. He is coming off back to back games where he had at least 108 receiving yards, including a season-best 10 receptions and 159 receiving yards against the Panthers in their last game. The 31-year old has been as steady as ever for the Chiefs, and has had at least 87 receiving yards in five of their nine games, which should continue against Las Vegas.
He led Kansas City in their Week 5 loss to the Raiders, finishing with eight receptions for 108 receiving yards and one touchdown. With Mahomes still in top form and Las Vegas still struggling to defend the pass, the five-time Pro Bowler will likely have another big game against them, and should be able to find the end zone as he did before. Kelce, however, will hope that his big game against their division rivals will not go in vain this time and result in their ninth win of the season.
3. The defense will slow down Henry Ruggs and the Raiders’ receivers
In contrast to the Raiders, the Chiefs are one of the best teams at defending the pass, allowing an average of 215.7 passing yards per game, which ranks eighth in the NFL. But that defense did little to slow down Las Vegas in the teams’ first meeting, with quarterback Derek Carr completing 22 of 31 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns against one interception.
The Raiders’ receivers had a field day against Kansas City, with rookie Henry Ruggs finishing with two receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown. The former Alabama wide receiver scored his first and so far only NFL touchdown, a 72-yard score against the Chiefs. Fellow wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Darren Waller also gashed the Kansas City defense and both found the end zone, and if the defending champions want to avenge their only loss of the season, they need to be able to stifle the Raiders’ receivers.
4. The Chiefs will avenge their only loss this season and move up to 9-1
With several of their players being on the COVID-19 list just days before the game, it gives the Raiders less time to practice against the Chiefs, especially their defense. Kansas City, meanwhile, is coming off a bye week and will have extra time to prepare against the only team to hand them a loss this season. Head coach Andy Reid has also historically done well after a bye week, compiling a 24-5 record throughout his coaching career.
With Mahomes under center and his usual targets like Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus Robinson on the field, the Chiefs offense should have another good game, especially with running backs Le’Veon Bell, who was acquired after the Week 5 loss, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire giving them more weapons. The defense, however, still needs to do a good job against Carr and the Las Vegas receivers, and at least slow down running back Josh Jacobs, who had two touchdowns in their first meeting.
But as their talented quarterback had said, the Chiefs don’t like losing to teams twice, and it’s hard to imagine the Raiders outscoring Kansas City for two games, especially with their offense playing as well as they have in the past few weeks.