Arrowhead Stadium has been a house of horrors for Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Will he finally exorcise his demons at his rival team’s stadium?
This is Derek Carr’s sixth year out of Fresno State. The former second-round pick of the Oakland Raiders has provided great stability to the Silver and Black’s offense. Carr is easily the best quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon.
Yet there is one thing he simply cannot do. Win a road game at Arrowhead Stadium.
In his previous five starts at Arrowhead, Carr and the Raiders have gone 0-5. Carr has played some of the worst football of his NFL career in Kansas City. Sunday will mark the sixth time that he will make the trek to Arrowhead as the star signal-caller for the Silver and Black. Will history repeat itself Sunday, or will Carr finally be able to get a W in K.C.?
In most years, the Raiders have been clearly the inferior team to the Chiefs. Kansas City has become the most stable franchise in the AFC West since head coach Andy Reid arrived back in 2013. While the Raiders did go 12-4 back in 2016, one of their four regular-season losses would be to the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Even a team with great momentum couldn’t get it done in K.C.
But will this year be any different for Carr and the Raiders? Do the Chiefs still have a huge talent advantage over the Silver and Black? Is there any hope for Carr to exercise his Chiefs Kingdom demons by finally silencing his critics in Arrowhead? Well, it’s certainly possible, but no, it’s not going to be easy.
We all would have felt more confident about the Silver and Black heading into this rivalry game had the Raiders not been completely embarrassed on the road by the inferior New York Jets last week. That was the definition of a trap game. We tried to tell the Raiders it was a trap, but they did not listen to us. It was so bad at MetLife vs. Gang Green that Carr got benched for Mike Glennon.
But before that most frustrating road defeat in East Rutherford, the Raiders were 6-4 with a chance to sit atop the AFC West standings with archrival Kansas City. Frankly, the Raiders have massively overachieved this season and probably finishing with an above-.500 record will be a huge deal for them. They run the ball well and have finally found themselves a pass rush.
Being able to pound the rock with running back Josh Jacobs and get after Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes with defensive end Maxx Crosby will be key in the Raiders pulling off the upset. However, none of that will be possible if Carr does not play well. The past indicates that he won’t play well in Arrowhead. Plus, the Raiders are getting Reid off a bye, so that doesn’t them at all.
So what we’re getting is the Raiders coming off their worst game of the season and have to play their archrival on the road in a stadium where Carr turns into a pumpkin against Reid coming off a bye. Got it. Good. Except that is not good for the Raiders, Carr or anybody who aligns themselves with the Silver and Black.
Kansas City is the better team, but not by a huge margin. The Chiefs have a great passing attack but have struggled to run the football for most of this season and the defense is still largely terrible like it was in 2018. The Raiders have the key players in place to pull off the road upset, but as long as Arrowhead is in Carr’s head, they will never beat Kansas City at Kansas City.
In truth, we should expect a good game between these two bitter AFC West rivals and 2019 playoff contenders. The winner of this game, most likely Kansas City, will almost certainly win the division. Oakland won’t overlook the Chiefs like the Raiders did the Jets and the Chiefs aren’t exactly world-beaters in the AFC this year. They’ll lose to so-so teams at home on occasion.
That being said, there will come a time where Carr will be asked to make a play in the passing game by head coach Jon Gruden and he will not be able to complete the menial task. Oakland could keep this game interesting into the second half, but once Carr falls in quicksand, it’ll be good night for the Raiders’ chances to win the AFC West for the first time since 2002. It’s now or never.