The Oakland Raiders (0-10) are playing host to the Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) on Thursday Night Football in Week 12. The Raiders will by trying to get their first win of the season and the Chiefs will be trying stay in the hunt for the AFC West title. Kansas City has been playing as good as any team in the AFC not named the New England Patriots, and the Raiders have had reason to celebrate in every game in which they don’t get blown out. The short week of preparation caused by playing on Thursday night affects every team in different ways. Catching the Chiefs on a short week may be exactly what the Raiders need to get their first win of the 2014 season. Then again, the short week could actually be more advantageous to the more experienced, and vastly superior Chiefs team. Here is a look at three things to watch for when Kansas City Chiefs play the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.
All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.
1. Will the Chiefs be overlooking the Raiders?
The Chiefs are coming off of a huge 24-20 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in Week 11, and they have a huge AFC West matchup against the Denver Broncos awaiting them in Week 13. It would be easy for a team such as the Chiefs, who are trying to prove that they are legitimate AFC contenders, to overlook a winless Raiders team in Week 12. Couple that with the effects that come from a short week of preparation and the Raiders could potentially sneak up on the red-hot Chiefs.
2. How will Derek Carr perform in his first prime time NFL game?
After an impressive start to his rookie year, Carr has appears to have hit the rookie wall. Following a Pro Bowl-caliber performance against the San Diego Chargers in Week 6, Carr has gotten progressively worse with every week. Granted, he has faced some of the league’s best defenses over that stretch and has a lackluster supporting cast, but it’s hard not to jump to the conclusion that the defensive coordinators around the league have gathered enough film to have him figured out. With that being said, playing games in prime time television slots has a strange way of bringing out the best in players. With this being Carr’s first taste of prime time, it will be interesting to see how the rookie responds to being on the big stage.
3. Can the Raiders contain Justin Houston and the rest of the Chiefs’ pass rush?
Houston leads the NFL with 12 sacks in 2014. Ironically, the Raiders have given up only 12 sacks in 2014. The Chiefs have 30 total sacks for the season – the third highest total in the NFL – and for the Raiders to have any chance at pulling off this improbable upset on Thursday, they will need to neutralize the relentless Kansas City pass rush.