(CBS Local) — The Oakland Raiders (6-5) came into their game with the New York Jets expecting a win. That’s not what happened… far from it. The Jets soundly beat the Raiders in all facets of the game. Bad as it was, the final score, 34-3, almost undersells the beating.
The Raiders will have to draw what lessons they can from the Week 12 loss and move on to their matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) this coming Sunday. Lucky for them it’s just one loss — albeit an ugly one — and a bounce-back win in Kansas City would give them a share of the AFC West lead. In that welcome scenario, both teams would be 7-5 with 3-1 records in the division and four more games.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The Jets are playing good football of late, scoring 34 points in each of the team’s three consecutive wins. But the Chiefs, behind NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, are one of the few teams capable of putting up 34 points in a half. Mahomes has 19 TD passes on the season, despite missing significant time. Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins are both among the NFL’s most dangerous game-breakers. Travis Kelce has the second-most catches so far among tight ends. The Chiefs are coming off a bye and looking to push for the playoffs.
According to NFL Today analyst Nate Burleson, “Going up against the Chiefs, you know it’s going to be a tough task, as the Chiefs offense is the closest thing we have to the Golden State Warriors [of recent seasons] in this game.”
Sam Darnold just carved up the Raiders defense for 315 yards passing and two touchdowns, and averaging almost 16 yards per completion in the process. Burleson sums up his evolving view of their defense. “With everything they have gone through, trading Khalil Mack, Gareon Conley, they’re missing five starters on that defense. After all of that I would have said they had been doing a great job. But, after watching the Jets game, maybe they were just putting Band Aids over open wounds. And now, those Band Aids have started to break. So, I don’t expect the Raiders defense to be able to keep up with the Chiefs.”
But the Raiders offense might be able to keep up on the scoreboard, especially given the Chiefs sub-par defense. The Kansas City unit allows 23.3 points per game, which puts them in the bottom half of league defenses, and 375.7 yards per game, which puts them among the league’s worst. The Raiders’ best chance may rest on exploiting a vulnerable Chiefs defense.
As Burleson projects, “let’s make sure on offense we’re doing what we need to do in order to get points ourselves. And, even though Derek Carr finished just 15/27 for 127 yards, he wasn’t playing poorly on Sunday. He came out of the gate hitting receivers right in the numbers, and they were just dropping the ball.”
Who knows if early catches could have changed the course of the game? But it’s clear that the Raiders need to execute better. Drops at key moments limited drives in Sunday’s loss; one late in the game turned into a pick-six. A repeat of that against the Chiefs will lead to a similar result.
As Burleson, himself a former NFL wide receiver, puts it, “those guys are going to have to step up. And they have shown they can do it this season. It’s not a matter so much of making adjustments as it is of finding those performances again. You know that teams are going to try and make Carr make throws into tight windows and you know that they’re going to be tough, contested catches that you have to make.”
The Raiders play the Chargers Sunday at 1:25 p.m. PT on CBS.