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New FSM Game Preview: Raiders vs Chiefs – Week 18

Las Vegas Raiders (6-10) | Kansas City Chiefs (13-3)

Franchise Sports Media

 

After one of the most tumultuous NFL years on record, the Raiders will put their season to bed against their most hated rival – the Kansas City Chiefs – on Saturday afternoon at fabulous Allegiant Stadium.

 

Raiders vs Jaguars
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Transparently, It’s been a little hard to care about football these past few days. Sure, the Las Vegas Raiders are mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, but superseding any concerns around that is Buffalo Bills S Damar Hamlin’s current fight for his life. At Franchise Sports Media, our thoughts & prayers are with Damar.

If you somehow have not heard by now, Hamlin was involved in an on-field collision with Bengals WR Tee Higgins during Monday Night Football’s contest between Buffalo and Cincinnati. After making the tackle on Higgins (in which Higgins’ helmet made contact with Hamlin’s chest), Hamlin rose to his feet for less than two seconds before fully collapsing down to his back. First responders at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium were immediately on the scene to administer CPR, but Hamlin, in critical condition, was taken to the nearby University of Cincinnati Hospital via ambulance. Of course, the Bills-Bengals game was subsequently postponed indefinitely.

Naturally, that is not the right move, but it is the only move. We are all well aware of the physical danger that the game of gridiron football presents, but it is exactly that: Just a game. Certainly, aspects like life, family, friendship, and long-term health are all things to be cherished before any sort of athletics comes into the picture.

Still, the tragic situation does leave the rest of the AFC in a state of flux. Outside the two teams involved in last Monday night’s freak accident, the next most affected team is the Kansas City Chiefs. The exact side the Raiders are hosting this upcoming Saturday in Week 18. With the Bills (12-3) and Bengals (11-4) sitting behind the Chiefs as the AFC No. 2 & 3-seeds, respectively, the outcome of that game would have largely dictated K.C.’s strategy in their final game out in Vegas.

As of Wednesday, there has been no further announcement of what will come of BUF-CIN. Whether the two sides force the playoffs to be pushed back a week or if they simply flip a coin to decide, Kansas City will need to take it upon themselves to solidify the 1-seed. Basically, don’t expect the Chiefs to rest any starters Saturday in “Sin City.” What can the Raiders do to possibly knock K.C. down a spot? Let’s dive in.


Previous contests

 

HOF game: Raiders 27 – Jaguars 11
PRE1: Raiders 26 – Vikings 20
PRE2: Raiders 15 – Dolphins 13

PRE3: Raiders 23 – Patriots 6

WK1: Chargers 24 – Raiders 19 (L)
WK2: Cardinals 29 – Raiders 23 (OT)/(L)
WK3: Titans 24 – Raiders 22 (L)
WK4: Raiders 32 – Broncos 23 (W)
WK5: Chiefs 30 – Raiders 29 (L)
WK6: BYE
WK7: Raiders 38 – Texans 20 (W)

WK8: Saints 24 – Raiders 0 (L)
WK9: Jaguars 27 – Raiders 20 (L)
WK10: Colts 25 – Raiders 20 (L)
WK11: Raiders 22 – Broncos 16 (OT)/(W)
WK12: Raiders 40 – Seahawks 34 (OT)/(W)
WK13: Raiders 27 – Chargers 20 (W)
WK14: Rams 17 – Raiders 16 (L)
WK15: Raiders 30 – Patriots 24 (W)
WK16: Steelers 13 – Raiders 10 (L)
WK17: 49ers 37 – Raiders 34 (OT)/(L)

 

KEYS TO THE GAME:

 

The Magic Man

 

Raiders vs Chiefs
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Of course, Kansas City’s success all starts with Patrick Lavon Mahomes II. In his sixth NFL season, Mahomeboy has continued his usual brilliance by leading all passers in both yardage (5,048) and touchdowns (40) through 17 weeks while sitting third in overall completions (417). He’s on pace for his second AP MVP award, but like other top-tier athletes, we seem to be taking his dominance for granted.

We know Mahomes excels at launching the home run ball, and with the pass catchers that K.C. has, every single spot on the field is in play for their offense. Still, it is actually Mahomes’ broken play/improvisational nature that leaves his opponents both disoriented & defeated. Getting physical with the big-armed quarterback has to always be a focal point for Vegas’ defense, but staying with the Chiefs’ skill players during the scramble drill is tantamount.

 

Keep it secret, keep it safe

 

Raiders vs 49ers
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Getty Images

For the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18, perhaps the best thing going for them is their hot hand under center, and the fact that there is simply not very much NFL tape on him. As most saw last week, QB Jarrett Stidham went toe-to-toe with that top-ranked defense from San Francisco by playing aggressively, using his legs, and taking shots downfield in the passing game. Sure, the Raiders wound up losing in OT after Stidham’s interception, but the fourth-year Auburn product was only the second quarterback this year to throw three touchdown passes against the 49ers. The other QB to do so in 2022 was Patrick Mahomes.

I’m not taking anything away from Stidham, but perhaps San Francisco’s lack of footage on him aided his success. Still, for Kansas City’s mediocre secondary, it’s unlikely they have a “good feel” on Stidham from just one game started. Also, keep in mind the offense looked a little more complex under Stidham compared to Derek Carr. In my opinion, that’s attributed to the fact that Stidham has studied four years in McDaniels’ system, whereas Carr only had a single season with the curriculum. Maybe McDaniels goes a little deeper into his bag with a familiar face calling the signals.

 

Coaching matchup

 

Raiders vs Chiefs
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

As expressed earlier in the season when the Raiders traveled to Kansas City (Week 5), I cannot justify any reason to give McDaniels a coaching edge over the great Andy Reid. An offensive guru spanning the last four decades, Reid and Mahomes have fit together like Cinderella and her glass slipper, and the abilities of hyper-dynamic tight end Travis Kelce have only complemented their offensive concepts.

Even after losing the fastest player in the NFL (Tyreek Hill) to Miami, Reid and Mahomes currently have the Chiefs’ offense producing more yardage than anyone else–Through the air, Mahomes and the Chiefs have amassed 5,048 yards, which is more than 400 yards above the next NFL team. Yes, it took Reid over 20 seasons as an NFL head coach to win his first Super Bowl, but now that he has, the 2002 AP Coach of the Year seems poised to make another run at the Lombardi Trophy.


INJURY REPORT:

 

Below are Thursday’s (Jan. 5th) practice participation sheets for the Raiders and Chiefs:

Las Vegas – WR Davante Adams (Full – Illness), LB Curtis Bolton (Full – Shin), LB Darien Butler (DNP – Concussion), P A.J. Cole (Full – Illness), RB Josh Jacobs (DNP – Hip/oblique), QB Jarrett Stidham (Full – Throwing elbow), RB Zamir White (Full – Ankle), CB Tyler Hall (Full – Foot).

Kansas City – WR Skyy Moore (DNP – Hand), CB L’Jarius Sneed (Limited – Hip), OG Joe Thuney (Limited – Ankle), LB Nick Bolton (Full – Rib), K Harrison Butker (Limited – Back), WR Mecole Hardman (Limited – Pelvis).


WEATHER REPORT:

The Death Star (aka Allegiant Stadium) is a covered venue and climate controlled. Outside on the streets of Paradise, Nevada, Saturday afternoon’s weather will be mild & cloudy. Leading up to kickoff, expect temperatures to be in the mid-50s with moderate winds throughout the day. 

 

For their final game of the 2022-23 season, the Raiders will welcome their fiercest rival – the Kansas City Chiefs – back to Allegiant Stadium. Kickoff in Week 18 is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 7 at 1:30 pm PST and will be nationally televised on ESPN/ABC (local radio play-by-play on RNR AM920).                

 

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-Gabe Santiago – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Gabe on Twitter & Instagram at @gps_onthemic

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