Chiefs coach Andy Reid holds a 15-2 career record after the bye week, and the first half of the Chiefs at the Oakland Raiders posts another classic example of why.
The Chiefs certainly didn’t look like the .500 team blown out 42-14 in their last outing against Pittsburgh. The offense has shown more patience, the defense more discipline and play calling more balanced.
The defense adjusted after a quick 46-yard touchdown drive following a 50-yard return of the game’s opening kickoff.
The biggest loss for the Chiefs in the first half is the absence of cornerback Phillip Gaines. Gaines is questionable to return after a knee injury. It’s unclear how serious the injury is or if it’s related to his previous ACL injury.
Put pressure on Derek Carr
Conventional wisdom says sloppy conditions make it difficult for the offense to hold on to the ball. In reality poor conditions can favor a passing offense because receivers know where they are going and defenders have trouble changing direction.
When the Raiders offensive line provides protection for Carr, he has the presence to pick the secondary apart.
The Raiders offense looked sharp on the first drive, but that’s not out of the ordinary. The Raiders have proved much more dangerous in the second half this season, particularly in the fourth quarter.
Carr carries a 133.1 quarterback rating with his team trailing and less than four minutes to play, completing 10 of 15 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs need to put away the Raiders early and avoid the comeback.
More Jamaal Charles
The first half proved what the Chiefs 11-game win streak last season masked: this team is better with Charles on the field.
It’s not simply the numbers of yards and touchdowns. Charles brings intangibles to the Chiefs offense that are hard to quantify. The sequence leading to the go-ahead touchdown that put the Chiefs up 14-7 illustrates this.
First Charles scooted through a hole and cutback for a 16-yard gain, and run that not many backs can make. Then he picked up the blitz allowing Smith to connect with Albert Wilson for a juggling catch for first-and-goal. Charles then plunged it to the end zone for the touchdown.
Charles infuses confidence into the Chiefs offense they have lacked through much of the first four games. More Charles should help Smith and the rest of the unit get back to normal.
Keep running the ball
The Chiefs ran the ball 16 times compared to just 10 passing plays. That’s a far cry from the 42 passing attempts Smith averaged through the first four games, and it’s fueled a 13-10 halftime lead.
The Chiefs need to score more to win the game — 13 points likely won’t last against the Raiders. But continuing with a healthy dose of the running game should keep the clock moving, keep the ball away from the Raiders and help the Chiefs put points on the board.