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Since I was a kid growing up in Kansas City, the Raiders and Chiefs matchup has always been a marked day on my NFL calendar. Yesterday’s Sunday night thriller was no different. While neither team is the same one they were last season, it’s fairly evident, even in a loss, that the Raiders are the more improved team this year.
With only one loss, the reigning Super Bowl champs somehow manage to look more human and vulnerable than they did this time last season. Many have compared Mahomes and Co. to last year’s Patriots who, for all the posturing and home-field advantage an impressive regular season record afforded them, suffered a lackluster first round elimination which saw Tom Brady’s last pass as a Patriot intercepted.
Meanwhile with convincing wins against the Chiefs and the Saints, the Raiders had every reason to come into last night’s game expecting a win and remained in striking distance until the end. Coach Jon Gurden and Derek Carr continue to build chemistry and the Raiders’ confidence jumps off of the screen.
Carr handily outperformed Patrick Mahomes. He went 23/31 for 275 yards, with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception resulting in a QBR of 95.1 to Mahomes’ 90.6. Fortunately for the Las Vegas Raiders QB performance wasn’t and consistently isn’t where they need improvement. Targeted once each, Josh Jacobs and Devonte Booker combined for fewer than 75 rushing yards resulting in 1 touchdown, and Nelson Agholor, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow made up 213 of the Raiders 275 receiving yards.
As a city now home to the NHL, the WNBA and the NBA Summer League, Las Vegas is not only a professional sports town, it’s a winning one as well, and at 6-4 with a string of impressive home wins behind them in a beautiful new stadium, the Raiders have absolutely no reason to worry. They lost a good game to a good team they’ve already beaten this season, and with some minor offensive tweaks which would include improving the run game and receivers finding ways to get open, the Raiders should prove to be a most formidable opponent in the playoffs and may even continue to stun teams touted to be heavy favorites in the postseason.