For Pete's Sake

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

Barring an unlikely postseason meeting, the Chiefs will be playing their final game in Oakland on Sunday.

The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas from Oakland at the end of the 2019 season, and in some ways Sunday will be the end of an era for two of the AFC’s original franchises. The Raiders have moved in the past, but this time they will be leaving the state of California.

The Chiefs have won three of their last four games in Oakland, and with a win Sunday, they will improve to 2-0 this season with both victories coming on the road. The Raiders opened the season Monday night with a 24-16 win over the Broncos in Oakland.

Each week, I take an early look at the Chiefs’ next opponent, and here are five things to know about the Raiders ahead of Sunday’s game, which kicks off at 3:05 p.m. and will be broadcast on CBS (Ch. 5):

1. No AB, no problem

The Antonio Brown saga ended Saturday with the Raiders releasing the disgruntled receiver, who hours later agreed to a deal with the Patriots.

After Brown’s departure, ESPN Stats and Info noted that entering the season, none of the Raiders’ receivers or tight ends had caught more than six passes from quarterback Derek Carr.

That lack of experience didn’t seem to be a problem during Monday’s game against the Broncos. Carr completed 22 of 26 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown.

Former Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams, who signed a four-year, $44.3 million deal in the offseason, may be Carr’s go-to target and he caught a touchdown pass on the Raiders’ first drive on Monday night:

Williams had six catches for 105 yards, while tight end Darren Waller caught seven passes for 70 yards.

2. A new running back

Last month, the Raiders released Doug Martin, their leading rusher from a year ago. Martin had 723 yards on the ground in the 2018 season.

Oakland’s new featured back is Josh Jacobs, the former Alabama star who was drafted with the 24th pick in April. He got the bulk of the carries during Monday’s game against the Broncos and finished with 85 yards in 23 attempts.

Jacobs also had this rushing touchdown in the second quarter:

Jacobs also had one catch for 28 yards and ESPN Stats and Info had this interesting note:

3. Pass protection

The Raiders struggled to keep Carr from opposing defenders last year as they allowed 52 sacks, which was tied for 26th in the NFL.

Oakland signed tackle Trent Brown from the Patriots in the offseason (four years, $66 million) and hope second-year tackle Kolton Miller can step up and be a key player on the offensive line.

So far, so good. On Monday, the Broncos failed to record a sack, despite having a notable pass rushe led by Bradley Chubb and Von Miller.

4. Improved pass rush

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ mobility was limited Sunday after he suffered an ankle injury against the Jaguars. The Raiders may hope to get Mahomes moving Sunday, but their pass rush was terrible a year ago. Oakland had a league-worst 13 sacks last season, 17 fewer than the Raiders and Giants, who were tied for 30th.

The Raiders signed defensive end Benson Mayowa and linebacker Vontaze Burfict in the hopes of shoring up that deficiency. There was improvement against the Broncos.

On Monday, Mayowa twice sacked quarterback Joe Flacco, while rookie defensive tackle Clelin Ferrell had one.

Here is the sack by Ferrell, who was the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft:

5. Better against run, too

The Raiders’ rush defense ranking 30th in the NFL in 2018, allowing 140.6 yards per game. But on Monday night, the Broncos had 95 yards on the ground in 24 attempts.

Part of the reason for that better rushing defense could be attributed to Denver never having a lead on Monday.