The Las Vegas Raiders needed to alter their style when they finally broke through last month with their first win in Kansas City in eight years.
Derek Carr delivered the most prolific deep passing game of his career, coach Jon Gruden called for two successful fourth-down gambles and a much-maligned defense came up with a couple of key defensive stops to outpace Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Pulling off the season sweep against the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs (8-1) will be an even taller task for the Raiders (6-3) on Sunday night.
“They’re the world champions. You have to do whatever it takes to try and win the game,” Gruden said. “That particular day, it just seemed to be a shootout. There’s no guarantee we’re going to make a first down this time. We’ll see how it goes.”
Carr, who has been criticized throughout his career for being too quick to check the ball down, was as aggressive as ever during the 40-32 win in Week 5. His 219 yards passing on deep throws were 79 more than his next biggest game of his seven-year career as he connected on long scoring strikes to Henry Ruggs III and Nelson Agholor, as well as two other deep throws to Ruggs and Hunter Renfrow.
The ultra-aggressive approach appeared to catch the Chiefs by surprise that day as their defensive backs seemed to jump at underneath routes and leave room to operate deep.
“They made some good plays, they came out on fire,” cornerback Charvarius Ward said. “They had a good game plan. They had an answer for the things were doing, but this week we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
SHORT-HANDED: The Raiders’ defense is playing its best football in years heading into this game, allowing 14.7 points per game and a 68.1 passer rating the past three weeks after forcing five turnovers in a win over Denver last week. Slowing the Chiefs will be much harder, especially since most of the defense missed practice all week on the COVID-19 list. Starting defensive end Clelin Ferrell tested positive early in the week, joining linebacker Cory Littleton on the list. Eight other defensive players were placed on the COVID-19 list as “high risk” close contacts, including starters Lamarcus Joyner, Maliek Collins, Johnathan Abram and Johnathan Hankins. Those players could return by Sunday if they keep testing negative, but won’t be able to practice all week.