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Kansas City Chiefs: 4-2Grade: B+Maybe the Chiefs aren’t so perfect after all?The past two weeks have been illuminating for Raiders fans who have come to the realization that the Chiefs are vulnerable atop the AFC West https://www.raiderslockerroom.com/authentic-derek-carr-jersey , with Oakland only a half game out of first place. The recipe that the Colts and Texans have followed to beat Kansas City in back-to-back weeks is as followed:Step 1: Control the clock with a strong running gameStep 2: Play tight, man-to-man coverage to hinder Andy Reid from exploiting zone conceptsStep 3: Pray that Mahomes doesn’t beat you anywayWith Josh Jacobs and the Raider offensive line firing on all cylinders, taking care of Step 1 on that list is very doable for the Silver & Black. Step 2 on the other hand, is another question.Key Stat: 77:03Speaking of controlling the clock with a consistent running game, 77.03 is the amount of total minutes that Indianapolis and Houston controlled the ball the past two weeks, compared to just 42:57 minutes for Kansas City.Controlling the clock against a potent passing attack like Kansas City is paramount, not only because of their propensity to score touchdowns, but because the amount of time on the field eventually takes a toll on the defense. This was a major problem for Chip Kelly-coached teams in the NFL, and will continue to be an issue for Kansas City until they establish a running game. During their two losses, Kansas City only rushed 25 times for 89 yards.Most Unfortunate Event: Patrick Mahomes’ Mild High Ankle SprainThis shows how smoothly things have gone for the Chiefs thus far this season. And it is the reason that Step 3 has worked out for the Colts and Texans.Mahomes’ mobility is key to his success, as it allows him to escape the pocket and create broken play masterpieces at a moment’s notice. With that mobility sapped by ankle issues, he still remained impressive as a pocket passer, just not otherworldly like we’ve come to expect.Oakland Raiders: 3-2Grade: BThe Bye week was good to the Raiders, with two-thirds of their division foes losing games. They’ve kicked off their insane schedule of six weeks without a true home game well, going 2-1 with upset wins over the Colts and Bears.Now, they travel to Lambeau Field with an extra week to prepare for Aaron Rodgers. Funnily enough, if Davante Adams remains out against Oakland, the Raiders will be facing the lone team in the NFL with a more desolate receiving corps at the moment. The Raiders will travel to Houston afterwards, and return home to play Detroit the following week.Former NFL GM Michael Lombardi picked the Raiders to grab the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff race during his GM Shuffle podcast on Monday, saying, “I think Jon Gruden is doing a really good job of avoiding losing. I think if you ask me for one work to describe the Raiders this year it would be their ability to (avoid) losing.If they simply go 1-2 through the next three games, they’ll be sitting pretty at 4-4, with a much easier second half game slate.Key Stat: 38.6 percentAccording to Football Outsiders’ 30,000 simulations based on DVOA and preseason projections, the Raiders have a 38.6 percent chance to make the playoffs this season.In 1.8 percent of such simulations, the Raiders make it to the Super Bowl, and in 0.7 percent of simulations, they win it all. If that seems middling, that’s because it is. Their chances at a Super Bowl win sit at No. 16 overall, surprisingly just behind the Los Angeles Rams’ 0.8 percent.While Raider fans were left feeling some type of way after getting a beatdown from the 49ers last year in their last regular season game as Bay Area rivals, they could enact some revenge in an awesomely fun but highly unlikely Bay Area Super Bowl matchup, which occurred in 0.5 percent of simulations.Most Unfortunate Event: The Antonio Brown SagaIs this one even a question. Sure, this technically didn’t happen during the season, but the ripple effects of the Antonio Brown “era” be seen throughout the entire season.This offense was supposedly designed for Brown to be a focal point, so as the season progresses the Raiders have had to adjust on the fly. After bringing in Trevor Davis and Zay Jones via trade, they’re adjusting even further.Gruden was adamant that during the Bye week, he was in Jones’ ear teaching him the playbook to get him up to speed on the offense. They’ll need him to shake off the “bust” label and consistently show his promising flashes if they truly intend to compete with the Chiefs for divisional supremacy. Denver Broncos: 2-4Grade: CDon’t look now, but the Broncos are surprisingly competent. After losing their first four games by an average of 5.75 points, Denver’s defense has come alive and the wins have followed.After knocking off the Chargers 20-13, they blanked Tennessee and may have ended Marcus Mariota’s out of the Titan’s future plans for good. It has started with stuffing the run, as the Broncos allowed only 74 yards on the ground in the past two games combined, allowing only 2.0 yards per carry on 37 carries.Those numbers have come mostly against carries from Derrick Henry and Melvin Gordon. Not exactly elite talents, but studs nonetheless. It’s much too early to declare the Broncos as “back” by any means, but we’ll have a better understanding of their chances in the AFC West when they square up with Kansas City on Thursday Night Football. Key Stat: 26/78While the defense has been great Derek Carr Jersey White , the Joe Flacco-led offense still hasn’t done much. The Broncos’ offense ranks No. 25 thus far in third down conversions, successfully finding first downs only 33.3 percent of the time on 78 opportunities.Making matters even worse, the offense may be without Emmanuel Sanders for at least a week. He failed to finish the Titans game and was limited in practice on Monday. Average Joe has already been… well… average (at best) this year. If Sanders is unavailable, he’ll look more like subpar Joe.Most Unfortunate Event: Bradley Chubb’s ACL TearThe fact that the defense has ratcheted things up a notch post Chubb’s ACL tear shows just how dominant this defense could’ve been with a healthy squad. Chubb was expected to come into his own as one of the NFL’s premier pass rushing threats this season, but instead he’ll be relegated to the rehab table all year.In his place, rookie undrafted free agent Malik Reed has been admirable. But he won’t come close to replicating Chubb’s impact across from Von Miller. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-4Grade: D+Who are the Los Angeles Chargers? A team with no fanbase? A team that just lost to Devlin Hodges? A team that should just trade Phillip Rivers to the Bears and tank already?Well, they’re definitely two of those things. And they might be all three. In our installment of quarter-season grades, it was suggested that the Chargers could get rolling against lesser opponents during this part of the season. But at this point, with road games against Tennessee and Chicago on deck, it’s not looking good for Anthony Lynn and Co.Key Stat: 8Prior to the season, people profiled the Chargers as a darkhorse Super Bowl contender. Yet, after six weeks, they sit with the eighth best odds to secure a top 5 draft pick at 18.2 percent, per Football Outsiders.With so many quarterbacks available in this year’s draft, it might be time for the Chargers to look to the future at that position. Sure, Rivers deserves more in his final years with the organization, but he isn’t winning a Super Bowl with the Chargers. Not this year’s injury-plagued version of the team, anyway.This team has almost no fan base and no discernable hope for the future, making it the perfect opportunity to tank and sell prospective fans on hope before they move into a new stadium.Most Unfortunate Event: Melvin Gordon Holdout and Derwin James InjuryWhich has been more impactful to the Chargers struggles, Gordon’s holdout, or James’ foot fracture? It’s hard to tell, and that’s why they’re tied here.Last year’s DROY going down for 3-4 months has changed the complexion of the Chargers defense, as they are unable to lean on him in Nickel and Dime sets that made them so potent last season. He would line up at safety, outside corner, nickel, linebacker and even as an edge rusher in certain situations for the Chargers. Having a chess piece like that taken away before the season is like starting a chess game without your queen.Meanwhile, Gordon’s holdout was distracting and damaging to the team. They’ve had to work him back into the offense over the past few weeks, and the results have been abysmal as he tries to get in shape. He’s carried the ball 20 times for 49 yards through his first two games as he tries to find his footing. That’s devastatingly bad. If he can’t round into form quickly, his prolonged absence might be thought of as one of the worst holdouts in NFL history. Sunday was Raiders’ third game in London and the third time was apparently the charm. They came out with an improbable 24-21 win over the Bears.WinnersJon GrudenThere isn’t a happier person on the planet than Jon Gruden right now. He took his team halfway across the world to face the likely Hall of Famer who he infamously traded away in his prime who was the lynch pin on the best defensive line in football and dominated them on the ground using the player he selected with the first of the two first round picks he acquired in that trade (breathe). I think the word would be vindication. It doesn’t matter if this actually vindicates him because it squashes the questions for a while. It’s a large weight off his shoulders. He might actually sleep in tomorrow.Josh JacobsA career-high 123 yards rushing. The first back to rush for more than 54 yards on the Bears this season and just the third back to go over 100 yards since the start of 2018. And he scored the game-winning touchdown. I smell rookie of the week honors.Raiders offensive lineJacobs wasn’t the only one to pick up yards against the Bears on Sunday. By halftime the Raiders already had more yards than any team had against them in any full game this season. Derek Carr went unsacked in the game with Mack getting to him just once. They had a bold strategy of going right after the Bears’ biggest strength and they had them on their heels all day. Something few teams have done to them the past couple seasons.TottenhamThis was the first ever game played in the brand new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It is a gorgeous state-of-the-art facility. Not only is a gem for the city of Tottenham, but this game was a gem to watch. With several runs and lead changes and a late drive for an exciting come-from-behind, 97-yard, game-winning drive. The NFL was introduced to Tottenham in spectacular fashion. Likewise Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was introduced to the NFL.LosersKevin Pierre-LouisThat game-winning drive shouldn’t have happened. The Raiders had punted the ball away. But Pierre-Louis was flagged for running into the kicker to turn fourth and six into fourth and one. The Raiders were at their own 27, but in need of a touchdown, so they changed their punt to a fake on a direct snap to Erik Harris who picked it up and the Raiders drove the rest of the way to get the touchdown they needed. Without the penalty on Pierre-Louis, the Bears would have had the ball near midfield only needing a few yards to get in scoring range to extend their lead.Akiem HicksHicks missed a practice this week and was questionable for the game. He started the game, but his day would end quickly. He was down on the field and would leave the game with an elbow injury not to return. In a game which featured 169 yards rushing by the opponent and ended 24-21 on a late game-winning drive, you have to figure losing your Pro Bowl defensive tackle played a part in that.Chase DanielEven after the game-winning drive, the Bears had time to drive for a tie or the win. That ended when there was a miscommunication between Daniel and receiver Anthony Miller and Daniel’s pass was thrown into the waiting arms of Gareon Conley instead. With 1;22 left, the Raiders were basically able to run the clock down to give the Bears no time to mount another scoring drive. Daniel had thrown a pick in the second quarter as well which led to the Raiders second touchdown. Oakland This game was really exciting. It was a ‘home’ game, but only in the sense that the Raiders lost an actual home game to play in it. They tried to make the Raiders feel like home by running montages of Raiders greats on the jumbotrons, painting the end zones “OAKLAND” and “RAIDERS”, and hanging Raiders banners up all over. But that isn’t what makes a team feel at home. The fans do that. And this was a Bears crowd. The Raiders constantly had to deal with booing whenever they took the field or left it and ran their offense to a deafening roar. They still rose to the occasion in an exciting game which Oakland deserved to see in their actual home stadium. Those fans would have been going crazy for the Raiders and giving them the adoration they deserved when they made a big play and the quiet they needed on offense. One of the best Raiders games I’ve seen in a while was taken from Oakland and played on the other side of the planet.Follow @LeviDamien
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