Raider Watch Week 1 Instant Reaction

Andrew Flores – Sep 8, 2017

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots

 The Chiefs

On offense, the Chiefs have surrounded Alex Smith with a bevy of young talent. Head Coach Andy Reid is a brilliant offensive mind and he has masterfully built an offense that does an excellent job of highlighting his player’s strengths while simultaneously disguising their weaknesses. Alex Smith’s struggle to make big plays is easily disguised through a combination of inventive gadget plays and play action passes which do a great job of keeping opposing defenses honest. Halt the hype train running back Kareem Hunt isn’t the second coming of Shady McCoy. He is not as elusive or explosive as cut-on-a-dime McCoy, but he is also a more physical back than the Bills star. On almost every one of his runs Hunt falls forward. His tough running style makes it so this Chiefs offense won’t miss a beat in-spite of the loss of Spencer Ware. The rookie runner has the potential to be one of the top running backs this season. I’ll admit I did not think Tyreek Hill would thrive as the Chief’s number one wide-out. Boy, did he prove me wrong; Hill was absolutely electric in his debut as the Chiefs top-playmaker. Opposite of Hill, Chris Conley will need to continue to develop. If Conley can become the solid move the chains wide-out this Chiefs team is missing, they will have one of the NFL’s best offenses. Finally, let’s not forget that this Chiefs team has one of the NFL’s top tight ends in Travis Kelce. Tight-ends have been the kryptonite for a Raider’s defense led by a superman-esque Khalil Mack.  

This defense has the potential to be dominant. The loss of Dontari Poe may have taken the teeth out of the middle of the defense for now. The Chief’s defense struggled to stop the Patriots potent running attack. But, remember the Chiefs are coming off of a year where they shut down Derek Carr. I won’t pull punches the defense looks like it could be even better this year. While many will point to the loss of safety Eric Berry, the Chiefs have continued to draft and develop talent on defense and it shows. In the secondary, Oakland native Marcus Peters is easily the best corner in the AFC West and may be the best corner in the AFC. He is a dominant corner with elite ball skills and while there are times where his aggressive style of play will cost him, to paraphrase Beast Mode he “gets his more than he gets got”. Dee Ford is going to make a big leap this year, he showed some great coverage skills and range and is a defensive chess piece at linebacker. Along the defensive line the Chiefs have invested some heavy draft capital and Chris Jones and Tanoh Kpassagnon will only get better as the season goes on. While he is no Poe, Bennie Logan is a solid replacement at nose tackle making this Chiefs defense one of the most talented in the AFC conference. 

The Patriots

On offense, Tom Brady appears to have hoodwinked father time for another year. The Patriots offense is really intriguing this year, because they shifted from a move-the-chains timing based offense to an explosive vertical offense in an offseason full of moves.  The addition of both Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett will give this offense some sizzle. The loss of Edelman may appear significant now, but the offense won’t miss a beat. Gronk appears to be back and as good as ever. The addition of Dwayne Allen gives them another tight-end with the potential to stretch the field on any given play. Make no mistake the Patriots will use Allen to exploit mismatches often as shown with the shot Brady took early in the 1st quarter. Finally, the Patriots have the deepest backfield in the NFL. The offseason additions of Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee give the Patriots the power element they lost with the offseason departure of Blount. Make no mistake this is the best running game Brady has ever had and Belicheck will use it to wear teams down all season long. The bottom line is the offense will have some small growing pains due to the philosophical change, but this could be the best offense Brady has ever had.

On defense, the Patriots’ defensive line is suspect and the Kansas City Chiefs exploited that. Defensive-end Trey Flowers is an ascending talent to keep an eye on as the season progresses. But the losses of Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich and Chris Long make it so this defensive line is bound to struggle this season. At linebacker, the Patriots have a bevy of young talent led by star middle linebacker Dont'a Hightower. They have done a wonderful job of finding low-cost impact players at the position.  The secondary is one of the best in the NFL. The addition of Stephon Gilmore alongside Malcolm Butler gives the Patriots the ability to shut down opposing teams best two wide-outs while safety Devin McCourty can hone in on the playmakers who might try and strike the middle of the defense. While this defense struggled with the shifty Tyreek Hill, they will match up well against the Raiders tandem of Crabtree and Cooper. The Raiders will have to exploit other match-ups or create their own in order to win in Mexico City.

Final Thoughts

If the Raiders are serious about bringing a title home, they will have to beat both of these teams when it counts. Its week one of the NFL and I know I am hyped for the Raiders 1st game. Raider Nation I know that the defense has really given us a reason to worry I get it, I know the loss of Obi really left a disturbance in the force. But, let’s see what they give us before we hit the big red button ok? Last but not least I hope you enjoyed the read, it’s been real. 

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