On a short Raiders Week, Chiefs have to shake off first loss

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It took over a month, but it finally happened.

Your Kansas City Chiefs are no longer undefeated.

Yes, the 19-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was gut-wrenching:

  • and the old Alex Smith reared his ugly head, missing Demarcus Robinson on a host of passes that would’ve gone for big gains/touchdowns and could have been the difference in the game
  • and Derrick Johnson still cannot tackle
  • and the Chiefs still cannot stop Le’Veon Bell (35 touches for 191 yards)
  • and Bob Sutton continues to play nickel against one of the best offensive lines in football.

The Ugly:

  • OL run blocking. Kareem Hunt had his worst game as a pro (9-21 rushing) and Chiefs never got the ground game going. The Chiefs, as a result, has SIX total yards at halftime on 16 plays. Not good.
  • Daniel Sorenson is a terrible run player. That’s been evident all season, but Bell exposed it.
  • Eric Fisher owned by James Harrison once again.

The Bad:

  • Smith overthrows Robinson on a would-be first down on the game’s final drive. He also missed Robinson in the endzone.
  • Young receivers did next to nothing.
  • Too many bone-headed penalties.
  • Andy Reid elected to go for it down 12-3, inside the own 5, and Smith’s pass to Demetrius Harris “failed.” Although, it was likely a TD, as Harris came down with both feet with possession before going to the ground and losing the ball. The play was not reviewed, and Reid should have challenged. That said, kicking a FG would have been the best decision, and on the final possession, they would have down 19-16, with a chance to tie with a FG instead of needing a TD to win. When asked about the decision, he said, “I do what my gut tells me to do.”

The Good:

  • Chiefs lost to a quality AFC team (4-2), and did so without a starting C, LG, RG, WR, RB2, WR3.
  • Smith didn’t turn it over, and made huge plays in the second half to bring us back.
  • Secondary made stops when needed (except when Phillip Gaines let a would-be INT go through his hands, off his helmet and into the hands of Antonio Brown for a long TD).
  • CHIEFS STILL LEAD THE AFC WEST AT 5-1 AND TAKE ON THE 2-4 RAIDERS ON THURSDAY NIGHT.

In spite of those negatives, the loss wasn’t that terrible. The Chiefs are still the best team in the AFC (and tied with the Eagles, whom they beat, for the NFL’s best record). It was their lowest point total of the season, and easily their worst offensive performance since…their last loss, also to Pittsburgh – who is 7-0 against the Chiefs under Big Ben when he starts and plays the whole game (he started a game, but left via injury at Arrowhead in 2015, when the Chiefs one (Bell didnt play, either, due to suspension)), 18-16 in the AFC Divisional Round. However, without three starters on the offensive line and two wide receivers, it’s really no surprise. The injuries had to eventually catch up with Kansas City, and personally I’d rather they lose now than later in the season, when the stakes are higher. Thankfully for our grieving hearts, the Chiefs get a chance to start a new winning streak in just a matter of days. Kicking off on Thursday Night against the Oakland Raiders (2-4), the Chiefs will look to extend their 12-game win streak against AFC West opponents, and a win streak against the Raiders that dates back to 2014.

The Chiefs offense should get reinforcements as early as this week. While he left Sunday’s game injured, Tyreek Hill did not suffer a concussion and should play, barring any sudden setbacks. Albert Wilson, who surprisingly missed this weekend due to a knee injury, so the sooner he gets back, the better. Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and center Mitch Morse are practicing again and could both be back this week. Despite the deficiencies on offense, Alex Smith has played this year like a man on fire, throwing for 1,637 yards and 12 scores while he’s yet to throw an interception. Regardless of the availability of Wilson, I believe Smith, who is 9-1 (7-1 as a Chief) all-time against the Raiders (63% completion percentage, 19 TD, 4 INT) with return to his Week 1-5 level of play. The Raiders defense is, no surprise, terrible again, and Smith has all the weapons to mince them to the bone.

Former teammate Sean Smith doesn’t have the foot speed to match up with any of the Chiefs receivers, particularly Hill. While he’s only scored twice, his 390 yards are tied for 12th in the NFL (with teammate Travis Kelce). His 75-yard score against the Patriots is the second longest pass play in the league right now, and if Smith is afforded time, Hill could do it again. I love Hill this week because he always seems to make huge plays in Primetime. The aforementioned touchdown is just one, but also remember his 82-yard punt return touchdown against the Texans on Sunday Night just a couple weeks ago, and he scored on a touchdown catch and punt return in their Thursday Night win against Oakland last season.

Hill isn’t the only Chiefs star to worry about. Rookie back Kareem Hunt is in the midst of a season never seen before. The first player in NFL history to totaling at least 100 scrimmage yards in their first six straight games, his 5.9 yards per carry mark is 1.3 more than second place (4.6, Leonard Fournette). Coming off a 21-yard rushing performance against Pittsburgh, I think he’ll return to triple digits against the Raiders, who surrender an average of 117.2 rush yards/game, and have given up totals of 83 (Melvin Gordon), 73 (Javorious Allen), and 95 (C.J Anderson). The Chiefs passing offense should also be much better this week, which will open up the field for Hunt and also allow him to stay on the field.  Capping of the trio is Kelce, whose seven catches of 20+ yards is tied for third most in the league, and most among tight ends. The Raiders just gave up 90 yards to Chargers tight end Hunter Henry, and surrendered 75 to Denver’s A.J Derby. If the Chiefs offense is right, Kelce could easily cross the 100-yard plateau, something he’s already done twice in 2017.

The reason why Kansas City hasn’t lost to Oakland since Derek Carr’s rookie season (also on a Thursday Night…when the Raiders were winless in 2014 – when the Chiefs missed the playoffs at 9-7 thanks to losses to TWO 2-14 teams), is because they’ve straight-up dominated Carr. Home or road, it hasn’t mattered. In six games against KC, Carr is 136/247 (55%) for 1,125 yards, 6 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and he’s been sacked 18 times. The Chiefs man-heavy scheme doesn’t allow the Raiders receivers to get quick releases and allow Carr to complete the short passes that (in addition to beefing up numbers to make him look better than what he actually is) allow the Raiders to move the ball. Carr couldn’t complete passes against Terrance Mitchell last season, and I don’t think that’s going to change. Mitchell has as many interceptions as Peters this season, and he’s played better at times. Experts might be calling this a wake-up game for Amari Cooper, but I don’t think so. His drop rate is one of the league’s worst, and against a corner like Peters, balls that don’t go in your hands wind up in his. If anything, I believe this could be a get-right game for a much-maligned secondary.

Also returning to form is Justin Houston, who has 6.5 sacks, and once again is near the top of the league in pressures. Dee Ford returned to action on Sunday and recorded his 2nd sack of the season. Those two will be huge in stopping the Raiders offense. Marshawn Lynch was supposed to add a new dimension to their offense, but (surprise!) he looks more like an old running back who spent a year out of football. His 3.7 yards per carry is 4th worst among running backs with at least 70 carries. After getting gashed by Bell, seeing Lynch will be a welcome sight for the Chiefs front seven. KC will need Daniel Sorensen – who for the first time all season made us all miss Eric Berry – to play better, because Lynch can still make people miss. Overall, this isn’t as stiff of a test for the defense and a prime position to get back on track.

The Chiefs are 5-1 and Oakland is 2-4. Look for Andy Reid, who is 7-1 against the Raiders as the head man in charge for the Chiefs, to avenge himself on a hated rival, and look for the new fanbase the Raiders gained last season to begin shrinking back to 2008 levels. Kansas City 28-13.

“I think the positive is we get a short week to bounce back, get this taste out of our mouth,” Alex Smith said.

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