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The Las Vegas Raiders are 6-6 and still on the postseason bubble, and that’s after losing to Washington in Week 13 by a last-minute field goal; so blame QB Derek Carr’s offense that only managed a single touchdown in that loss, with RB Josh Jacobs a bright light in Vegas as he brings dual-threat skills to offset Carr’s passing attack that could be without TE Darren Waller.
Even though the 8-4 Kansas City Chiefs are in control of the AFC West and on a 5-game winning streak, there is talk that they are not playing their best football and watching QB Patrick Mahomes toss a dozen picks already and seeing Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce essentially neutralized by the opposition makes it seem like their improved defense is saving the day now.
These two AFC West rivals have played each other 125 other times (including 3 postseason games), with the Kansas City Chiefs winning 69 of those games and the Las Vegas Raiders winning 54 of the games, plus there have been two ties.
It is Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs’ third NFL season, his second with the Raiders, and he is fast becoming a major part of OC Greg Olson’s offensive game plan, a productive playmaker who topped 1,300 total yards from scrimmage in his first two years as a pro.
This season, Jacobs has 163 total touches, and he has turned those into over 700 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns, numbers that should increase exponentially as the Raiders lean more on the run game with pass-catching tight end Darren Waller (knee) still questionable.
Jacobs’ most productive game this season came in Week 12 in the team’s win over the Cowboys when he carried the ball 22 times for 87 yards and a touchdown and caught 2 passes for 25 yards, forcing Dallas’s defense to adjust their game plan around his effective play.
The Chiefs started out the season with the reputation of having a stellar offense run by superstar QB Patrick Mahomes who was forced to score early and often to make up for the team’s subpar defense that could not stop opponents from finding the endzone.
Now somehow that narrative has done a 180-degree flip and the Chiefs’ defense has been saving the day while its offense looks lost and ineffective after defenses began neutralizing their biggest threats – speedy WR Tyreek Hill and the powerful TE Travis Kelce.
Not to mention QB Patrick Mahomes looks uncharacteristically questionable at times – hesitant, then forcing the ball – although his recent decision to take what defenses are giving him and win with the short ball has proven he and HC Andy Reid will not be outmaneuvered in the end.
One of the best players on the Raiders team is tight end Darren Waller, a strong blocker who can get open and catch passes while earning big yards after the catch, but his ankle is injured, and he is questionable to play after not making an appearance in Week 13.
If Waller can’t go, the role of the pass-catching tight end goes to Foster Moreau, the 6’ 4” 250 pound LSU alum who is now in his third NFL season, so far with 22 targets and 13 catches for 169 yards and three touchdowns on the season.
While Moreau’s number’s may not be as impressive as Waller’s at this point in the season, expect them to improve in Darren’s absence, this Raiders’ offense in need of a Gronk-like presence to distract defenses and give QB Carr a solid target in the red zone.
What defenses have begun to figure out is that if they double and triple team the Chiefs’ major playmakers – WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce – their offense struggles to get down the field, so this is the perfect time for WR Mecole Hardman to step up and become the man.
Now in his third pro season (all with the Chiefs), Hardman has thus far been a supplemental receiver who has taken advantage of all the attention paid to the flashier playmakers, a 500+ receiving yards player who is good for about five touchdowns per season.
With the other receivers getting much of the defense’s focus, now is the time for Hardman to step into the limelight the way he did in Week 5 when he caught 9 passes off 12 targets for 76 yards but no touchdowns, Hardman’s endzone visits the major stat he needs to improve on.
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|Raiders vs Chiefs Information
|Las Vegas Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs
|Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO
|Sunday, December 12, 2021; 1:00 PM ET
|How to watch
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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