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Raiders beat Chiefs

Reed Hoffmann / Associated Press

Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs (39) celebrates a defensive stop against the Kansas City Chiefs with Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (98) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2023 in Kansas City, Mo.

The odds are against the Raiders regarding the playoffs. Even if Las Vegas wins its final two games, it still needs help from other teams.

But the Raiders have a shot, and that didn’t seem to be the case two weeks ago.

After beating up on the disinterested Los Angeles Chargers 63-21 on Dec. 14, the Raiders sent a signal Monday they shouldn’t be discounted by winning 20-14 at defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City.

They close the season at Indianapolis on Sunday and then at home against the Denver Broncos.

Las Vegas (7-8) has only a 12% chance of making the playoffs, according to the NFL’s projections, but that number rises to 30% if the Raiders beat the Colts (8-7). A loss would eliminate Las Vegas.

Indianapolis is favored by a field goal, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Considering the Raiders just won as 10 1/2-point underdogs against the Chiefs, a victory over the Colts wouldn’t exactly be shocking.

Trying to find a way to beat the Colts has Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce’s attention, not a potential trip to the postseason.

“That’s how we’ve been focusing, what’s in front of us,” Pierce said. “I can’t control 2024, and that’s in 2024. I’m in 2023 right now.”

This season has some notable similarities to Las Vegas’ most recent run to the playoffs two years ago.

The Raiders also had a player-favorite interim coach that season in Rich Bisaccia, and they have been on board with Pierce since he was elevated from linebackers coach.

Las Vegas’ playoff hopes also were dismal under Bisaccia, but the Raiders won their final four games to finish 10-7 and advance to the postseason. They began their playoff run at one game under .500, which is where the Raiders are now.

Bisaccia didn’t get to keep the job. Maybe Pierce will, and getting to the playoffs would be his best argument. He presented a pretty good one with the victory at Kansas City.

“We’re playing good football right now,” defensive end Maxx Crosby said. “We’ve just got to keep improving.”


Defensive end Malcolm Koonce has suddenly become a force, with five sacks, four tackles for loss and seven quarterback hits over the past two games. He had three sacks Monday and helped put Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes on the run throughout the day. Mahomes finished with a 73.6 quarterback rating.


Pierce expressed confidence Tuesday that quarterback Aidan O’Connell could win a game on his own if called upon, but the evidence is iffy. O’Connell didn’t complete a pass after the first quarter, making Las Vegas the first team since 2000 to win a game that way. Even in the record-setting victory over the Chargers, O’Connell benefited from four touchdown drives starting in Los Angeles territory.


Running back Zamir White has more than taken advantage of his opportunities with Josh Jacobs out the past two games with a quadriceps injury. White rushed for 214 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. And when the Raiders needed to put away the Chiefs, White — behind some outstanding blocking by the offensive line — had runs of 43 and 15 yards.


Las Vegas converted three of 12 third downs at Kansas City to continue a season-long issue. Six of the Raiders’ nine drives ended in punts and none in touchdowns. (The Raiders scored their two touchdowns on defense.) Two series ended in field goals and the other was the drive that ran out the clock. The Raiders are 27th in the NFL in third-down efficiency, converting 34.6%.


Jacobs nearly returned Monday, so there are high hopes he will play this weekend. LT Kolton Miller (shoulder) was held out against the Chiefs until the final drive. He went into the game when Jermaine Eluemunor injured his knee.


15.3 — The Raiders’ average points allowed since Pierce became the interim coach seven games ago. Las Vegas gave up an average 22.3 points in the first eight games under Josh McDaniels. If the Raiders had maintained the defensive average under Pierce all season, they would lead the league. They are eighth overall with 19.6 points allowed.


The Raiders play their final away game of the season on Sunday at Indianapolis.

Article written by #LasVegasSun