Defense carries streaking Chiefs into matchup with Raiders
The Kansas City Chiefs have recorded a winning streak of at least five games in nine consecutive seasons.
The suddenly hot Chiefs look to increase this season’s run to six straight when they host the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday in a pivotal AFC West matchup.
Kansas City (8-4) was viewed as an underachieving team when it was walloped 27-3 by the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 24 to fall to 3-4.
However, with their powerful offense sputtering, the Chiefs stepped it up on defense and have allowed just 11.2 points per game during the five-game streak.
The latest example was last weekend’s 22-9 win over Denver when the Broncos’ lone touchdown came in the latter half of the fourth quarter with the outcome decided.
“I still don’t think we played our best game yet,” Kansas City safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “Hopefully that game is the Super Bowl.”
Getting quarterback Patrick Mahomes untracked would help in that quest.
Mahomes has failed to throw a touchdown pass in each of the past two games and has been held under 200 passing yards twice in the past four contests. Against the Broncos, he was 15 of 29 for 184 yards and one interception.
The 22 points against Denver represented Kansas City’s second-highest output over the past six games. Also, Mahomes has thrown 12 interceptions this season, matching his career worst from 2018.
“Luckily enough, our defense is playing good enough that whenever (turnovers) happened, they’ve been able to get stops or get turnovers … and not let it impact the team,” Mahomes said Wednesday. “But you understand that turnovers are a huge part of this game.
“I’ll try to limit them as much as possible. But at the same time, I’ve just got to be me and I’ll continue to throw the football and give guys a chance to make plays.”
Perhaps the sight of the Raiders will spur on Mahomes. He notched his best all-round effort of the season when the Chiefs routed the Raiders 41-14 at Las Vegas in Week 10.
Mahomes completed 35 of 50 passes for a season-high 406 yards. He also matched a season best with five touchdown passes and wasn’t intercepted.
While the Chiefs have been ascending, the Raiders have been descending with losses in four of five games after a 5-2 start.
Las Vegas lost 17-15 to the Washington Football Team last week to mark the fourth time it was held to 16 or fewer points during the five-game stretch.
Quarterback Derek Carr had five 300-yard outings in the first seven games but has topped the figure just once during the team’s funk.
He definitely sees the need for a turnaround effort against the Chiefs.
“You can use urgency and all that, whatever. There’s a time and a place,” Carr said Wednesday. “But also you have to be smart, especially early in games. Especially against the team we’re about to play. You can’t be out there doing stupid things because their offense will make it 7-0 fast.”
Las Vegas is expected to be missing standout tight end Darren Waller (knee, back) for a second straight game. Waller didn’t practice Wednesday, and the club also placed running back Kenyan Drake (ankle) and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (ankle) on injured reserve.
One player stepping up for the Raiders is wideout Hunter Renfrow, who has 17 receptions for 236 yards over the past two games.
“Everyone’s going to say he’s a hard worker and he’s super smart, but he doesn’t get enough credit for how talented he is,” Carr said of Renfrow. “He’s also a very good football player from a talent perspective.”
Cornerback Chris Lammons (ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday for Kansas City after getting injured against the Broncos. Cornerback Rashad Fenton (knee) and offensive lineman Lucas Niang (ribs) were limited. Niang has missed the past three games while Fenton sat out versus Denver.
–Field Level Media