Chiefs Raiders Defensive Preview: Linebackers Are Key

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Nate looks at what the Chiefs defense needs to do in order to shut down the Raiders offense.

After the bye week, the Chiefs go back to Arrowhead Stadium to take on their bitter rivals, the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders come in with a 6-5 record, after being blown out by the New York Jets. We already beat the Raiders in week 2, 28-10, and now we’re back home. The defense had a lot of success after the first quarter, allowing zero points and forcing two interceptions. How can the defense sustain success again this week, with the division at stake? Read it all here, in our weekly preview of the opposing offense.

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Let’s first discuss Oakland’s stats. In terms of total yards, the Raiders are 14th in the league, at 356.8 yards per game. Oakland averages 5.9 yards per play, which ranks 7th in the league and is exactly league average in passing yards, averaging 234.1 yards per game. The Raiders make their money running the football, averaging 122.1 yards per game, 12th in the league, and average 4.4 yards per carry, for 14th in the league.

Not going to cover personnel in this article, we already did that earlier in the season in week 2. The Raiders didn’t make any significant trades at the deadline, and they also haven’t had any major injuries. It’s still Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Tyrell Williams, and that offensive line. Let’s just dive into the tape, instead.

Raiders Running Game

Oakland primarily runs two running schemes. They either run with zone or power blocking. When they get into 11 personnel, which they are here, they run more zone than power. The guards climb to the linebackers, the two receivers block the alley, and there’s a huge hole to run through.

The Chiefs defensive line, particularly their defensive tackles, are going to have to try and slant upfield against these blocks, taking away angles and holes to run through. You can’t just drive straight upfield, you need to work with the lineman. If the defensive tackles can do a good enough job slanting, we should be able to stop Jacobs.

As I alluded to above, the Raiders mainly run zone and power. When they get light personnel in, they run zone. When they get heavy, they run power. Here the Raiders are in 22 personnel, with a fullback, running back, and two tight ends. Out of this condensed formation, they run power, pulling the guard to the WILL linebacker to open a crease.

The Chiefs are going to have to be physical in the run game. Oakland isn’t a finesse team. They want to get heavy, and run it down your throats. This means the linebackers are going to have to do a good job of stacking blocks and shedding them for tackles. They can’t be washed out of gaps, or else Jacobs will wreak mayhem.

Raiders Passing Game

The Raiders passing game isn’t complex. Jon Gruden does a nice job calling plays for Carr and getting receivers open, but it isn’t some complex scheme like Kansas City’s. Oakland prefers to get rid of the ball as quick as possible, and let their receivers make plays in space.

One way they do a nice job of giving Derek Carr easy reads is with the short RPO game. This gives him one guy to read, the nickel corner, to see if he should throw it or not. The objective is getting rid of the ball quickly, and letting his receivers work in space.

Derek Carr isn’t a guy you want dropping back in a seven-step drop and asking him to throw the deep Over route. He wants the ball out quick, in the flats and curls, so he doesn’t have to deal with pressure.

In week 2, the Raiders ran a ton of play action against us, trying to confuse our overaggressive linebackers. Oakland will run a quick jet motion off of this, forcing the WILL linebacker to shift, then leak their back-side tight end off of it for an easy pass in the flat. In high school, we call this “Gee” pass, where the back-side tight end runs in the flat, the other tight end runs a 12 yard drag route, and the receiver runs a post corner route.

My guess is Gruden calls a lot of play action to get Carr moving around outside the pocket, giving him easy reads for his fast tight ends to beat our linebackers. Our LBs are going to have to do a nice job of quickly recovering to the flat, or the Raiders could pick up easy chunks.

Even though the Raiders will run 3 tight ends in a condensed formation, they can still run Four Verticals from it. They have the speed at tight end to beat even fast secondaries vertically, so we have to be ready to play deep, not just short flats.

Now, this is a situation the Chiefs want. I’m perfectly fine with Carr throwing a 50-50 ball in the cold conditions in Arrowhead Stadium. He isn’t the quarterback to do that. That being said, I’m concerned about them isolating a tight end on our linebackers in the passing game, so the Chiefs will need to be ready to roll some safety help over the top to bracket the tight ends.


In the end, the Raiders offense isn’t good. Derek Carr is 0-5 in Arrowhead Stadium, and 0-6 in sub-40 degree weather. It’s going to be cold in Arrowhead this week (I’ll be there), and we’re coming off a bye. This should be an easy win.

Still, the tight ends and the running backs concern me. Their tight ends are fast, and Josh Jacobs is a stud. Our linebackers are going to have to play great this week, in both coverage and the running game, or this game is going to get long.

That being said, the Chiefs have had 4 out of 5 weeks of very successful defense, with arguably their best performance against Los Angeles two weeks ago. I think the defense continues to sustain success this week, and the Chiefs pull out the victory. Give me Chiefs 38, Raiders 17. Then, bring on Tom Brady.

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11/30/2019 4:46 pm

Spags is handing them free yards on the ground with those pre-snap formation, in my opinion. Ya gotta line up more aggressively, overwhelm the run and make Carr know he HAS to get the ball out, and NObody’s getting a free release. Make him FIND the guy who wins at the line, in a contested situation, rather than give him the free-release pitch-and-catch. Drop into zone after you’ve provoked Gruden into a blitz-beater over the top. But ya gotta line up, more aggressively. We’ve got the speed on the back end of our defense. Go ahead and risk giving up chunks. Tighten it up on the short field, but above all, don’t let them run over you.

11/30/2019 9:38 am

The Raiders make their money running the football

Heavy dose of Pennell.

Our linebackers are going to have to play great this week

Time to earn the money boys.

11/30/2019 12:35 pm

So … Up the Dose of ” Pennel-Cillin ” whenever you’re Playin’ the RaiDuhs … Sound Advice … ; )

Reply to  KCChef
11/30/2019 12:38 pm

Good call. That’s how the disChargers got their name.

Reply to  KCChef
11/30/2019 1:45 pm

I like it!

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