The Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders will match up on Monday Night Football at Arrowhead Stadium. Here are a few key matchups to watch.
L’Jarius Sneed vs Hunter Renfrow
This matchup may not get all the headlines, but whichever team gets the most out of their player could wind up winning the game. While Davante Adams is off to a blazing start in Las Vegas and is almost certain to draw most of the defense’s attention, the game will come down to how Kansas City can stop the Raider’s other weapons, and taking away Renfrow could be key.
The one-thousand-yard wideout from a year ago has missed the last few games due to injury, but one would expect them to get him involved early and often, particularly on third downs. L’Jarius Sneed has moved back to playing the inside and slot corner for the Chiefs’ defense and it has yielded fruitful for both parties.
Sneed is second on the team in tackles and has been excellent as a Blitzer, accumulating three sacks through the first four games of the year. Those stats are great, but his coverage against Renfrow will play a huge factor in the outcome of the game. Being able to take away quick routes on third and shorts, as well as keeping the intermediate routes in check will be key for Kansas City Victory.
Maxx Crosby vs Orlando Brown Jr and Andrew Wylie
The Chiefs’ offensive line put up their best day as a whole against Tampa Bay last week, and they will have another massive test on Monday Night. Maxx Crosby is off to a smoking start to 2022, with four sacks, two forced fumbles, and multiple other pressures to his name.
Orlando Brown Jr and Andrew Wylie had good games last week, but have both been inconsistent for the most part, and will need to lock in against another elite edge rusher in Crosby. What makes Crosby so difficult to block is his incredible motor, as well as his length and strength, which can allow him to overpower most tackles, or use his larger frame to get past them.
Last season Wylie and Brown kept him in line, not allowing a sack in two games so it should be safe to say Crosby will be ready to go in this one. Wylie and Crosby were former teammates at Western Michigan and are both familiar with each other, while a good day for Brown against an elite edge rusher could boost his stock when it comes time for contract negotiations. If the Raiders want any shot to win they must pressure Mahomes with four and it will start with Crosby.
Nick Bolton vs Josh Jacobs
When Josh McDaniels took over as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders we all should have expected him to make the running game an important part of his gameplans, so it should be no surprise that Josh Jacobs is off to a hot start in 2022. Averaging 4.8 yards per carry, Jacobs has been a key part of the Raider’s offense early on and a monster game last week against Denver saw him rush for 144 yards with two touchdowns.
With the weapons the Raiders have in the passing game, most of the run defense will rely heavily on the ability of Nick Bolton who is also doing excellent early on this season. Leading the team with 37 total tackles, Bolton has come up big and looks to be elevating his game to the next level. He has been the catalyst for the Chiefs’ run defense that has been number one in the NFL, allowing just 65.8 yards per game this season. The Raiders will want to show off their new toys and air the ball out, but taking away the run will end up making them one-dimensional and allow the Chiefs’ pass rush to feast.
Chiefs DL vs Raiders OL
Derek Carr has been sacked a total of nine times so far this season, and while this isn’t terrible, in the games that the Raiders have struggled in this year, opponents have been able to heat him up and expose his lack of ability to evade the pocket under pressure. The Chiefs’ secondary will likely have their hands full with the trio of Adams, Renfrow, and Waller, so it will be important that they can get home with four.
Chris Jones will lead the charge against a depleted Raiders IOL, while Carlos Dunlap, George Karlaftis, and Frank Clark will have to work on Kolton Miller and Jermaine Eluemunor around the edge. I expect to see the Chiefs run some twists and stunts this week to get the Raiders’ blockers on different levels and collapse the pocket around Carr.