Chiefs look to remain perfect against Raiders
As easy as it is to be mesmerized by quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the productive Kansas City offense, the Chiefs defense deserves some attention, too.
Heading into its home game Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders (2-2), Kansas City (4-0) will be coming off a performance in which it generated four turnovers, including a pick-six, as well as two stops in the red zone.
That effort keyed a 26-10 victory Monday over the New England Patriots, who effectively slowed Kansas City’s deep threats by dropping eight into coverage and daring the Chiefs to run the ball or settle for short routes.
“With the guys we have on this offense and in this locker room, we expect to go out there and score every time we hit the field,” Mahomes said. “The good thing about this team that kind of gets slept on is we have a pretty good defense too. They held their own.”
The Patriots may have devised yet another blueprint for Chiefs opponents to consider, though nothing of late has ultimately proved successful.
The Chiefs are off to their fourth 4-0 start in four years (an NFL first) and have won 13 straight games, a franchise record.
The abilities of known defensive playmakers such as Frank Clark, Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu are beginning to rub off on the entire unit. With NFL offenses surging, the Chiefs are the only team in the league not to give up more than 20 points in any of their first four games.
“Every play is not going to be a great play,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, “but they don’t flinch on it, they learn from it and then they bring it the next time.”
One disconcerting moment for Kansas City happened Monday when Mahomes exchanged postgame pleasantries with Patriots defensive standout Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore has since tested positive for COVID-19, which could prompt additional postgame protocols.
Las Vegas defensive tackle Maurice Hurst also tested positive for COVID-19, though the Raiders still practiced Wednesday. Previously the club had been cited for several infractions stemming from not following protocols, including a $250,000 fine due partly to coach Jon Gruden not following rules for face coverings.
Though sitting alone in second place in the AFC West, the Raiders need an upset to make the division interesting. The Chiefs, however, have won five straight in the storied series and 27 of their last 30 against division rivals.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has registered a quarterback rating of 100-plus in each game and set a franchise record for career touchdown passes (151) last week in a 30-23 loss to Buffalo. He enters the Kansas City matchup 0-6 in Arrowhead Stadium, however.
“I like his competitive spirit, I like what he stands for and I like the way he’s playing,” Gruden said.
John Jacobs averages 75 yards as the Raiders’ primary rusher.
Anything he can to do to help Las Vegas maintain possession will be welcome considering its defense could have trouble pestering Mahomes. The Raiders are tied for 29th in the NFL in sacks (four) and takeaways (two).
Rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, the Raiders’ first-round pick, is practicing after missing all activities last week with a hamstring injury. Offensive tackle Trent Brown (calf) also returned to practice.
Kansas City continues to monitor Jones. The star defensive tackle missed the New England win with a groin injury.
–Field Level Media