ReFo: Raiders @ Chiefs, Week 15
Just when you thought the Raiders were threatening to show some signs of life this season, they remind everybody fairly conclusively that they are still the Raiders.
This was more a procession than a game where the result was ever in doubt as the Chiefs cruised to victory without ever really needing to get out of second gear.
A late touchdown flattered the score a little, but this was a decisive result and one which puts the Chiefs back in the playoff hunt, albeit looking in from the outside.
Oakland Raiders – Performances of Note
Derek Carr, QB: -7.2
Breakdown: Derek Carr is quite a frustrating quarterback to watch. A lot of young passers flash ability in between stretches of poor play. Carr flashes it within plays, often doing the hard work to evade pressure and buy more time and then screwing up the simple pass it left him with.
Signature Stat: Had a passer rating of just 39.6 when pressured in this game, completing only three of 19 passes on those plays.
Oakland’s OTs: -7.5 combined
Breakdown: The Chiefs are one of the toughest teams to face in terms of pass-rush threats and both Donald Penn (-3.4) and Khalif Barnes (-4.1) were worked over for stretches in this game by Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and even Dee Ford.
Signature Stat: The pair combined to surrender three sacks, three knockdowns and eight further hurries.
Khalil Mack, OLB: +2.0
Breakdown: If there’s a consistent bright spot for the Raiders this year it is the play of their top rookie, Khalil Mack. He was again impressive in this game, though it’s a little disappointing that he saved his best plays for the garbage time drives when the Chiefs were just trying to eat the clock.
Signature Play: Q2, 2:24. With the Chiefs trying to grind down the clock with the run game, Mack tossed Anthony Sherman aside (one of the league’s best fullbacks) to make the stop. Just a shame the game was long dead by that stage.
Kansas City Chiefs – Performances of Note
Justin Houston, OLB: +4.1
Breakdown: It struck me in the middle of this game that Justin Houston is a massively underrated player, and I have been doing him a disservice by just considering him a ‘very good’ pass rusher. He was relentless in this game and by far the biggest threat the Chiefs had, seemingly able to pressure at will.
Signature Stat: Had nine total pressures in the game, 150% more than any other Chiefs player.
Eric Fisher, OT: +0.1
Breakdown: Don’t look now, but Eric Fisher has been playing OK for quite a while now. OK it hasn’t been any better than OK, but we’re now looking at a run of seven games without any really disastrous outings with six successive positive run-blocking games. He’s still some way from the franchise left tackle everybody looks for at the top of the draft, but he’s at least edging back from the bust label.
Signature Stat: Did not allow his quarterback to hit the turf in this game, just the third time this season he can claim that.
De’Anthony Thomas, WR/PR: +0.5
Breakdown: There is no doubt that the Chiefs like the talent of Thomas, but much like Percy Harvin, now on his third team, or Tavon Austin, it’s not always easy to figure out what to do with players who don’t fit a conventional mold but are clearly game-breakers. Here Thomas saw limited time as a rusher or receiver but his game-breaking play came on an 81-yard punt return score.
Signature Play: Q3, 0:33. It might not have gone the distance like his touchdown, but he was also capable of making much more modest returns work by making people miss and inching the field position battle in Kansas City’s favor.
PFF Game Ball
Maybe it’s time we started viewing Justin Houston not only as a very good pass-rusher, but as one of the game’s true elite. He was exactly that in this game.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam