The Oakland Raiders lost a heart-breaker to the Kansas City Chiefs at home last weekend. Despite leading after three quarters, the game finished looking more like a blowout after one of the ugliest fourth quarters in NFL history. Unfortunately for the Raiders, having a bounce-back week against one of the best teams in the AFC on the road won’t be easy.
Here’s a look at three keys to pulling off what would be a huge upset for the Raiders.
1. Make Brock Osweiler win the game
The Broncos boast one of the best defenses in the entire league, so that’s probably not the side of the ball where you’re going to win. Meanwhile, for most of the year the Broncos offense has done just enough not to lose games. Most believe Osweiler is playing better than Peyton Manning was earlier in the season, but he’s been far from great.
Osweiler has started four games and threw interceptions in three of them. And in only one game has he averaged more than 6.43 yards per pass play. All in all, Osweiler has looked decidedly average, but given how good the defense is, that can be enough at times. Yet if the Raiders completely shut down the run game, they can put extra pressure on Osweiler and hope to force a mistake in the form of an interception or two.
2. Bill Musgrave must pull all of the tricks out of the bag
The Raiders will not face a better defense for the rest of the season. The Chiefs have an impressive defense, but this Broncos unit is elite. The Raiders will not be making the playoffs and don’t have a whole lot left to play for. A big upset here might just be the biggest moment left for the Raiders this season.
Because of that, Musgrave — the offensive coordinator I knocked earlier in the week for going conservative against Kansas City — needs to throw everything he’s got at this defense. Any special plays or unique formations he’s been hiding need to be used now. The only way this team can pull out the upset is if they can find a way to move the ball and score a lot more points than the 10 they put up the last time these two teams faced.
3. Derek Carr needs to forget about last week
His fourth quarter against the Chiefs was the kind that can turn a guy into Footsteps Falco. Even Chiefs fans who had daydreamed about the Raiders getting blown out couldn’t have conjured such a rotten final 15 minutes. Carr had a lead going into the quarter and threw it away with three interceptions — one for a pick-six and one that was returned down to the 1-yard line.
The loss can be credited 100% to Derek Carr and he knows it. This week he even told reporters he lost sleep over the game, but he is also ready to move on. That’s actually good … he should have lost sleep. But now the Raiders need him to move on from that game and focus only on the Broncos. If he even starts to think about what happened last week while standing in the pocket and lose the confidence he’s shown throughout the season, it could lead to a disastrous 60 minutes in Denver.