Key matchups to watch for in Chiefs vs. Raiders in Week 10

Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Rashad Fenton, right, breaks up a pass intended for Las Vegas Raiders fullback Alec Ingold, left, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The AFC is a wide-open conference right now. A win for the Kansas City Chiefs against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 10 could do wonders for the team’s confidence and its playoff aspirations but they must win these individual matchups to have a chance a victory on Sunday.

Battle in the Trenches

The Chiefs will be without both of their RTs Mike Remmers and Lucas Niang against some ferocious edge rushers from the Raiders.

The Las Vegas Raiders are ranked 11th in the NFL in team defense with Yannick Ngakoue (6 sacks, 19 pressures) and Maxx Crosby (5 sacks, 22 pressures) leading the team in sacks.

Crosby leads the league in quarterback knockdowns with 12.

Andrew Wylie stepped in in Week 9 when Niang went down with injury; he is currently listed as the backup RG. Prince Tega Wanogho is listed as starting LT Orlando Brown Jr.’s backup.

Wiley has played in 56 offensive snaps and has given up one sack; Pro Football Focus has given him a 50.3 grade so far this season.

Many fans have cast their doubts about the play of Brown Jr. but PFF rates him positively with a 77.3 grade.

The Chiefs are also top 5 in the NFL in pass block win rate and run block win rate.

Coachspeak always emphasizes how football is won on the frontlines and it will definitely be an X-factor in Sunday night’s showdown.

Keep the Defense Hot

The defense has played well the past two weeks.

They limited the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants to under 250 yards passing and obtained at least one turnover in both games.

But they also benefited from playing a less than stellar Giants offense with QB Daniel Jones at the helm and playing QB Jordan Love in his first start with the Packers.

Derek Carr is a much better QB than those two with multiple weapons for him to throw to.

RB Josh Jacobs (280 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs) has missed a few games with injury but is always a threat on the ground and in the passing game, TE Darren Waller (40 catches, 470 yards, 2 TDs) is a dynamic receiver that they will look to feed the ball and newly acquired WR DeSean Jackson will look to bring a spark to the offense.

Keeping those guys in check along with sustaining communication that players have mentioned in media availability is one of the keys to a win over the Raiders.

Raiders Playing Through Drama

There’s no ignoring how the Raiders have dominated national headlines the past few weeks.

The team’s former HC Jon Gruden resigned from the team after it was revealed that he sent a flurry of inappropriate and despicable emails and one of the team’s leading receivers Henry Ruggs III has been charged with a number of felonies after his drunk driving incident resulted in the death of a woman and her dog.

Oh and Gruden is now suing the NFL.

Although the Raiders are 2-1 since Gruden resigned, they dropped a close game to the Giants 23-16 in Week 9; that was their first game since Ruggs’ incident on November 2.

As much as this game could be a season definer for the Chiefs, it could also point the direction of the season for the Raiders as well. The Raiders could come together to make it a remarkable season in the wake of tragedy and scandal or their season could take a nose dive to add bad play onto terrible off-field circumstances.

Players say all the time that they keep their focus on the field when drama happens outside of football and most times they are correct.

But removing one of this team’s brightest stars and its leader could create a disadvantage on the field that teams like the Chiefs could take advantage of.

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