The Kansas City Chiefs will aim to get back on track this weekend with a matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.
Here are five things to keep in mind heading into game day.
1. Here's a look at the final injury report for both teams.
The Chiefs will be without running back Jerick McKinnon (groin) and wide receiver Mecole Hardman (thumb) for Sunday's game, Head Coach Andy Reid revealed on Friday. In some good news, wide receiver Richie James – who hasn't played since Week 2 with a knee injury – appears to be good to go as he has no injury designation entering Sunday's game.
As for the Raiders, edge rusher Maxx Crosby – who leads the NFL in pressures with 63 – is listed as "Doubtful" for Sunday's game due to a knee injury. Crosby, whose 10.5 sacks rank fifth in the league, didn't practice this week due to the injury. Additionally, starting linebacker Robert Spillane is listed as "Questionable" for Sunday with an ankle injury. Spillane leads Las Vegas in tackles (94) and ranks second on the team in defensive snaps (733).
Raiders' safety Marcus Epps, who has logged 673 defensive snaps this season, is also listed as "Questionable" with a neck injury, and starting left tackle Kolton Miller is listed as "Questionable" with a shoulder injury. Miller missed the Raiders' last two games due to the injury.
2. The Chiefs' defense, which has been perhaps the league's best this season, will need to contain Raiders' tailback Josh Jacobs.
Despite the loss on Monday, the Chiefs' defense was spectacular once again. Kansas City held Philadelphia – which entered the game as the No. 3 scoring offense in the NFL – to only 238 yards of offense and a 3-for-11 mark on third down while forcing seven punts, a season-most for the Eagles. It ultimately wasn't enough on Monday, but the performance only further re-enforced the reality that this may be the top defense in the NFL.
In fact, the Chiefs are atop the league rankings in terms of fewest offensive points allowed (155) and remain the only team to hold the opposition under 25 total points in every game this season.
They'll look to continue that torrid start against the Raiders on Sunday, and if they're to do so, it will need to begin with containing Raiders' tailback Josh Jacobs. The league's leading rusher last season, Jacobs has touched the football more than any other non-quarterback in the NFL this year. Through Week 11, Jacobs leads the league in total touches (231) and rushing attempts (200), touching the football on a staggering 67 percent of the Raiders' offensive plays.
Additionally, no other player on the Raiders has more than 65 rushing yards on the season, while Jacobs has 661. Now, it's worth pointing out that Jacobs' average yards-per-carry mark is just 3.31 yards this year, but still, he has proven himself capable during his career of breaking a big play at any moment.
It's all to say that if the Chiefs are to slow down the Raiders' offense on Sunday, stopping Jacobs must be the top priority.
3. Las Vegas will start rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell for the fourth-straight week.
Las Vegas' quarterback on Sunday will be rookie Aidan O'Connell, who will suit up for his fourth consecutive start. The former fourth-round pick has completed 56-of-93 passes (60.2%) for 633 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions in that span, leading the Raiders to a pair of victories before narrowly falling to Miami last week. He has shown a willingness to throw the ball down the field, too, recording 14 pass attempts of at least 20 air yards in that span, which ranks eighth in the NFL.
It's worth pointing out that O'Connell was under pressure on 48.8 percent of his dropbacks last week vs. Miami, completing 10-of-19 passes for 101 yards and two interceptions. He was also blitzed 10 times, averaging just 4.4 yards-per-attempt on those snaps. It's reasonable to expect the Chiefs' defense – which blitzes at the sixth-highest rate in the NFL – to bring significant pressure against O'Connell throughout Sunday's game.
4. The Raiders' defense has been among the best in the league over the last several weeks.
The Raiders' defense has been playing significantly better ever since interim Head Coach (and former NFL linebacker) Antonio Pierce took over back in Week 9. Las Vegas owns the league's No. 3 scoring defense in that time, yielding just 12.7 points-per-game, while forcing six turnovers.
"They play hard. I think that's the biggest thing. Coach Pierce is a great coach who was a great player, and he has a mindset that I think you can see [permeating] throughout the entire team," said quarterback Patrick Mahomes. "They've got a lot of guys that love football. It starts with [defensive end] Maxx [Crosby], but [also linebacker Robert] Spillane. All those guys that are out there, they're playing hard and flying around every single snap."
Crosby – who is listed as "Doubtful" for the game due to a knee injury – has played 98.3 percent of the Raiders' defensive snaps this season. He leads the NFL with 63 pressures, so his potential absence would obviously be a gigantic deal.
5. Kansas City will look to avoid the self-inflicted miscues.
The narrative in all three of the Chiefs' losses this season – last week's defeat at the hands of Philadelphia included – has been self-inflicted mistakes and errors. Those miscues include turnovers, penalties and drops, many of which have seemed to occur at critical moments, particularly in the second half of games.
The Chiefs have otherwise proven very difficult to beat, however, and the fortunate thing about self-inflicted errors is that they're fixable and avoidable, as Coach Reid explained earlier this week.
"We can do better with the penalty part, and we can do better attacking the ball. Those are things that we can work on and that we'll continue to work on, and that's where we'll start," Reid said. "There's no reason you can't do what you did in the first half, in the second half."
The Chiefs will aim to avoid those mistakes on Sunday as Kansas City looks to keep pace for the top record in the conference. The Chiefs currently sit a half-game behind the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins in the AFC playoff picture, but with a victory on Sunday (and a Ravens' loss), Kansas City would re-take its place atop the standings due to tie-breakers.
Catch the Chiefs and Raiders on Sunday afternoon at 3:25 p.m. CT on CBS.