It seems like just yesterday American football aficionados were waiting for what felt like an eternity for the 2016 NFL season to begin.
Yet, here we are, approaching the middle of October as we head into a Week 6 that projects to be laden with enough storylines and plot twists to make a presidential debate jealous.
In Week 6, an intriguing battle of AFC West rivals is scheduled, as the 2-2 Kansas City Chiefs will travel to the Bay Area to take on the surprisingly 4-1 Oakland Raiders.
The Chiefs come into this game with no momentum after a bye week and being absolutely torched 43-14 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4.
In contrast, the Oakland Raiders are on fire, having won three in a row after scratching and clawing their way to a 34-31 home win over the San Diego Chargers in Week 5.
So, will Andy Reid’s bunch reign on Oakland’s parade with a crucial road win, or will Jack Del Rio’s Raiders take another step toward putting an end to Oakland’s 13-year playoff drought with a home victory in front of the rowdy O.co Coliseum faithful?
Find out with these five bold predictions.
Alex Smith Nowhere To Be Found
Let’s be honest: Alex Smith is a solid game manager, but he’s not an elite quarterback and can’t be counted on to carry the Kansas City Chiefs while their defense is playing terribly.
Oakland’s defense has been far from impregnable this season and is admittedly giving up points at an alarming rate. However, with RB Jamaal Charles still limited, I don’t expect to see Kansas City’s offense firing on all cylinders on Sunday.
According to Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star, Smith is eager to get back to running the ball more often.
“I’m like gah, I think I have like zero rushing yards in three games,” said Smith, who actually had 14. “In three games, I’ve got like nothing. … I’m like bummed, I can’t believe that in three games I feel like I’ve been shut out.”
Alex can do as much rushing as his heart desires, but it isn’t going to make a difference if he can’t dominate aerially against the Raiders.
Expect Smith to be overwhelmed by pocket pressure from Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin and spend most of this game running for his life out of necessity instead of doing so as a productive strategy.
Derek Carr Electrifies
Derek Carr has been fantastic this season. According to ESPN, Carr’s tallied 1,383 passing yards (8th in NFL), 11 passing TDs (tied for 3rd in NFL), and has a 102.3 QB rating.
Most importantly, the Raiders are 4-1 and have been winning the close games that they so often lost in years passed this season.
After their aforementioned performance against Pittsburgh prior to their Week 4 bye in which they gave up an unfathomable 43 points, it’s hard to imagine the Chiefs having any chance of stopping Carr and Co. in this one.
Expect Derek to electrify with over 300 yards and three TDs.
Amari Cooper & Michael Crabtree Combine For 200 Yards, Three TDs
The Raiders field one of the most underrated and underappreciated wide receiver tandems in the NFL, and despite the fact that they have yet to receive adequate praise from the masses, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree continue to light NFL gridirons on fire on a weekly basis in 2016.
In Week 5 against San Diego, it was Cooper’s turn to electrify, as he tallied six receptions for 138 yards and one TD. And Crabtree added three receptions for 47 yards and a TD of his own for good measure.
Just a week prior, it was Crabtree who led the way with three TDs against Baltimore.
Even if the Chiefs are able to keep one of the two explosive wide receivers in check, the other is likely to carve them to shreds on Sunday. Expect the dynamic duo to produce over 200 receiving yards and three TDs.
Chiefs Defensive Line Loses Battle In Trenches, Fails To Record A Single Sack
Kansas City has struggled mightily to generate a pass rush in 2016. But, in fairness, the Chiefs were admittedly somewhat better in Week 4 against Pittsburgh, as they tallied two sacks.
However, the Chiefs only hit QB Ben Roethlisberger a total of three times, so it’s fair to assume the unit is still a work in progress.
Against the Oakland Raiders, who showcase a top-five offensive line according to Pro Football Focus, expect the Chiefs to revert back to their struggles from earlier in the season, ultimately failing to sack Derek Carr on a single occasion.
Raiders Win By 10 Points At Minimum
According to Pro Football Focus, the swell folks in Las Vegas favor the Raiders by just one point despite the fact that they are hosting the game.
However, I believe Vegas is way off.
Sure, Oakland has had to come from behind to win on multiple occasions, and the Raiders defense hasn’t exactly been an impregnable juggernaut this season. It’s true. But this Chiefs team has shown zero consistency from week to week in 2016 and has done absolutely zilch to warrant being a one-point underdog.
Led by otherworldly efforts from Derek Carr, the combination of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, an admirable performance from their running backs, and a sensational outing by their defensive line, the Raiders will comfortably win by no less than 10 points to go to 5-1.
And the Chiefs will be left to ponder where it all went wrong on a sad flight back to Kansas City on Sunday evening.
[Featured Image by Peter Aiken/Getty Images]