1. So the trap game is real, huh?
Yes. The Chiefs scoffed at the notion all week — they said the right things — but actions speak louder than words, and it’s clear the Chiefs didn’t come out particularly fired up on Thursday. It’s only human nature to ease back after a huge emotional win, but there was a general belief that the quick turnaround and national television audience would keep them from overlooking the winless Raiders. To be fair, though, Oakland played hard and made enough plays to win. That’s why they beat the Chiefs.
2. What the heck happened to the offensive play-calling?
After putting on a play-calling clinic last week against Seattle, Chiefs coach Andy Reid struggled to get anything going against the Raiders on Thursday — at least early on. Oakland swallowed up the short passes and screen passes, and while Jamaal Charles touched the ball a bunch, the Raiders still stepped up in every big situation. They were very prepared for this game defensively, and it’s safe to say their embarrassing performance last year (when they allowed 56 points) motivated them to get some revenge. Reid settled into a play-calling groove in the second half, and put Travis Kelce and Jamaal Charles in position to make plays, but in the end, it was too little, too late.
3. Should Chiefs fans freak out about Alex Smith’s first-half performance?
No. If people are going to give Reid’s game plan the credit when the offense is humming along, you better point the blame in that direction when things go poorly. It was hard to tell from afar, but to the naked eye, Smith, who completed eight of 18 passes for 48 yards in the first half, didn’t have many easy reads or throws the way he has in previous weeks. That’s a play-calling issue, because there were certainly times where Smith’s first and second reads were taken away. Smith isn’t completely absolved, of course — he had his share of ugly throws. But it’s up to his coaches to put him in position to make plays, and you could argue that didn’t happen until the second half Thursday.
4. Was the Chiefs’ run defense a mirage entering this week’s game?
No. While the Chiefs were the only team that had not yielded a rushing touchdown, they still entered the game ranked 25th in the league in rushing defense. And while the Raiders entered the game averaging 63 rushing yards per game, speedy rookie Latavius Murray gave them some serious juice. He scored the first rushing touchdown the Chiefs allowed all season in the first quarter, and his 90-yard touchdown jaunt, in which he outran the entire secondary to the end zone, was impressive. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the drop off from Murray to Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew was steep. While Murray rushed for 112 yards in four carries before he got hurt, Jones-Drew and McFadden rushed for 28 yards in 15 carries combined.
5. So, looking ahead. Can the Chiefs beat Denver?
Yes. This was a bad loss, an embarrassing loss, and no one will be happy about it. But the Chiefs will now have nine days to prepare for Denver, and they should be motivated as well. The Chiefs may be 7-4 after an unexpected loss, but they’re still in position to win the division with a win against the Broncos. A repeat of Thursday night’s performance would be shocking.
Murray’s first-half touchdown run, which was the longest the Chiefs have allowed in their history.
| Terez A. Paylor, email@example.com.