For Pete's Sake

Five things to know about the Chiefs’ next opponent, the Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch was tackled by Los Angeles Chargers strong safety Adrian Phillips (left) and free safety Tre Boston during Sunday’s game.
Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch was tackled by Los Angeles Chargers strong safety Adrian Phillips (left) and free safety Tre Boston during Sunday’s game. The Associated Press

Hey, you can’t win them all, right?

Unless you’re the 1972 Dolphins, that is, but I’ve heard enough about those guys and their champagne bottles. Fans are a bit down because the Chiefs lost their first game of the season on Sunday and they dropped to 5-1, but they still have the best record in the NFL.

It’s a short week for the Chiefs, who travel to Oakland on Thursday, but the 2-4 Raiders are in a funk, having lost four straight games. The Chiefs have won five straight games against the Raiders and seven of the last eight.

During the season, I’ll provide a quick overview of the next Chiefs’ opponent early in each week, and here are a few things to know about the Raiders.

1. Slow starts

There was a bit of good news for the Raiders in their 17-16 loss to the Chargers on Sunday. Oakland scored first for the first time in a month. In their previous three games, the Raiders had fallen behind by scores of 14-0 (vs. Baltimore), 10-0 (at Denver) and 21-0 (at Washington).

2. Derek Carr struggles

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr returned Sunday after missing a game because of transverse process fractures in his back. It was an unimpressive afternoon for Carr, who had a passer rating of 67.5 after completing 21-of-30 passes for 171 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

Scott Blair of NBC Sports Bay Area noted that Carr threw only five passes that went 10 yards or more on Sunday.

“It had nothing to do with my back,” Carr told Blair. “They play really soft zone coverage. That’s what (Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley) does. He tries to create pressure and hide some things. Usually, when they play soft, you have to take those.”

3. No interceptions

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith hasn’t thrown an interception this season, and the Raiders don’t have a pick.

They rank 32nd in the NFL in that category, because the Bears and Dolphins both had an interception on Sunday.

You might be wondering how former Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith is doing this season. Smith has made just one start this year and, of course, doesn’t have an interception.

4. Beast Mode?

Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch’s return to the NFL after a one-year retirement has been underwhelming.

Lynch, whose nickname is “Beast Mode,” has rushed for 257 yards in 70 attempts, an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Through the Raiders’ first six games, Lynch’s longest run has been for 15 yards. He has failed to reach 50 yards in four games and twice was held to less than 20 yards.

On Sunday, Lynch had 63 yards in 13 carries, which was an improvement. However, the Chargers have the NFL’s worst defense, so the numbers maybe aren’t that impressive.

5. Run defense

Oakland has yet to allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. The Chargers’ Melvin Gordon had 83 yards in 25 carries on Sunday.

However, heading into Monday night’s game, the Raiders are 21st in run defense, yielding 117.2 yards per game. Oakland is 14th in passing defense (232.7 yards per game).

The Chiefs will play six primetime games in their 2017 regular-season schedule, released Thursday by the NFL.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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