Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Conroy/AP/Shutterstock (13431427a) Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, in Indianapolis Chiefs Football, Indianapolis, United States – 25 Sep 2022
Las Vegas Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs
Time/TV: 7:15pm CT/ESPN
The Kansas City Chiefs will look to build on a huge win in Tampa Bay last Sunday night as they welcome the Las Vegas Raiders to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium for Monday Night Football. It is the first matchup between the divisional rivals this year, after the Chiefs scored 89 points in two blowout wins over Vegas last season. The Raiders have since changed defensive coordinators, replacing Gus Bradley with Brandon Graham. Bradley’s defense was one of the only units in the league to not use two high safety zones against the Chiefs, and it cost them dearly. What changes Graham makes remain to be seen, but one would assume Las Vegas’ defense will look different than it did in last year’s matchups.
Kansas City’s offense faced questions heading into the season for the first time in years, as many wondered how they would fare after losing speedster Tyreek Hill. The results so far have been overwhelmingly positive, as the Chiefs rank 2nd in the NFL averaging 32.3 points per game in the early going. Part of their ability to maintain their offensive dominance has been continuity, as Eric Bienemy has remained in the fold for as long as Patrick Mahomes has been with the organization. Another part of it is their ability to run the ball, an ability they put on full display last weekend on the road in Tampa with 189 yards against the vaunted Buccaneers’ rush defense.
Las Vegas enters the game at 1-3 on the year but are perhaps feeling rejuvenated after finally picking up their first win at home over the divisional rival Denver Broncos last Sunday. All three of the Raiders’ losses have come by close margins in games they could have won, and Monday Night feels like a great opportunity to validate the notion that they’re better than their record, if they can pull the upset. The Raiders have been getting healthier on offense, and it showed last weekend against Denver as they put up 32 points after failing to surpass 23 in their previous three matches. Derek Carr’s relationship with top wide receiver Davante Adams dates back to their college days, and the two have started to look more in sync of late – last week, Adams finished with nine catches and 101 yards. Hunter Renfrow’s return should provide a boost as well and may open up opportunities for Adams or star tight end Darren Waller downfield. Running back Josh Jacobs is coming off a breakout game against Denver as well that saw him score two touchdowns while gaining 144 yards, a trend he’ll look to continue Monday night.
If nothing else, the Raiders ought to have an advantage in special teams. Fifth year kicker Daniel Carlson has developed into one of the best in the league, while the Chiefs continue to struggle to replace the injured Harrison Butker. Should the Raiders find a way to win, they’d pull within one game of the divisional lead just five games into the 2022 campaign with tons of football left to play. They can hardly afford a loss, though, as a 1-4 start would leave them in dire straits.