Week seven kicks off Thursday night with an AFC West showdown. The 5-1 Kansas City Chiefs travel to the Bay Area to square off with the 2-4 Oakland Raiders. Oakland is riding a four game losing streak, as injuries have kept them fighting to stay above water in the AFC West. After a demoralizing loss at home to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders will be playing yet another divisional game with major playoff implications. The Chiefs have been one of the most surprising teams in the NFL this year, and a lot of that has to do with the play of rookie phenom, Kareem Hunt. The Raiders will need to play mistake free football if they hope to pull out a win this week.
Week Seven Oakland Raiders Keys To Victory
Special Teams Are Key
Last week the Raiders lost 17-16; a missed point after attempt by kicker Giorgio Tavecchio late in the game turned out to be the difference maker. This can’t happen against a team like the Chiefs.
The Raiders will need to find points where they can eliminate missed opportunities at all costs. For a team that has difficulties finding the end zone this year, a reliable kicking game is a paramount.
Conversely, limiting points on special teams has to be a priority of Raiders Special teams Coordinator, Brad Seely. The Chiefs rank in the top five in both kick-off and punt return yards. It would be wise for the Raiders kickers, Tavecchio and Marquette King, to keep the ball away from any Chiefs returner. Keeping the ball out of Akeem Hunt and Tyreek Hill’s hands will not only help keep potential points off the board, it will help to keep filed position in the Raiders favor.
Running The Football
One of the most glaring issues surrounding the Raiders this year is their inability to run the ball effectively. A failure to sustain drives and win time of possession has had a ripple effect on the team as a whole, and has caused many fans to question the signing of Marshawn Lynch.
The Chiefs are the 27th ranked rushing defense in the league this year, and the Raiders must take advantage of it. Second year man, Jalen Richard needs to be utilized more on first and second down for two reasons: spelling an aging Lynch, and providing an outlet for Derek Carr out of the backfield.
The offense will need to establish the run early in order to keep pace with the Chiefs. This will lead to more opportunities for Carr and his receivers down field and help win time of possession.
The Passing game
Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are two of the best receivers in the game, yet the Raiders passing attack has been below average this year, ranking 23rd in passing yards. Some of the teams woes can be attributed to Carr’s inefficiency, but most falls on Cooper’s lack of production.
Cooper is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL. He is a physical specimen and an athletic freak. Through six weeks, Cooper has caught 18 balls for 146 yards and one touchdown.
In week eight of 2016, Cooper caught 12 balls for 173 yards and one touchdown. That was in one week! This is evidence of the talent he has, and why his lack of production has been such a surprise.
If the Raiders are going to make a run at the playoffs, they have to win at home. To do that, Cooper must find his form, and be the weapon everyone knows he can be.