Andy Reid Has the Chiefs Primed for a Post-Bye Week Statement Game
Death, taxes and Andy Reid coming off a bye week. There are no greater certainties in life.
Reid, who has the sixth-most wins among all head coaches in league history, has an 18-3 regular-season record when returning from a bye. Whether it be with the Kansas City Chiefs or Philadelphia Eagles, he's always had his teams in prime position to come back from a week off feeling refreshed, refocused, and ready to go. This season, a relatively late bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Chiefs.
Impact players like Sammy Watkins, Mitchell Schwartz and L'Jarius Sneed are working their way back from injury. The team currently boasts an 8-1 record, good for the No. 2 spot in the AFC. That one loss, a 40-32 defeat at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders last month, is still fresh in the minds of many. Had the Chiefs handled business against a division rival, they'd be in a more ideal situation in regards to the home-field advantage race. By the time these two teams square off again on Sunday, Reid will have had two weeks to prepare. The stars are aligning for a revenge game, which now has even more storylines than usual thanks to a celebratory bus ride.
Despite playing some of the sloppiest football of the Reid and Patrick Mahomes era, the reigning Super Bowl champs lost by a single score to Las Vegas last time out. The Chiefs were penalized 10 times for 94 yards. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr played the game of his life. Rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs racked up 47 percent of his 2020 yards so far in that contest alone. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther made a high-flying offense look completely beatable by getting pressure on Mahomes all day long. It was a perfect storm of events — and one that likely won't happen again.
In Carr's last three games, he's combined to throw for 430 yards. For reference, he had 347 yards in Week 5 at Arrowhead Stadium. He's settling back into the role he's played for years: being a solid quarterback, but not a game-wrecker. At 6-3, Jon Gruden has his team squarely in position to compete for one of the AFC's three wild card spots. The Raiders are playing inspired football and feeling confident, but that's exactly where the Chiefs should want them.
In 'Raider Week: Act II,' we should see a completely different Chiefs team. They understand the gravity of this situation. After the loss in Act I, Mahomes acknowledged that the margin for error is very slim against quality opponents. "We didn’t play our best football today and tried to battle at the end, but if we don’t play at a high enough level against good football teams, then you’ll lose those games," he said. Getting the opponent's best shot each and every week is part of defending a title. This week, it's time for the Chiefs to send their best shot back.
In 2020 — a year filled with unfavorable outcomes — the Chiefs have had just one of them. It was a game against a divisional opponent looking to make a statement. Reid and his players haven't forgotten about it, and they should come out this Sunday looking to make a statement of their own: The Raiders are not in the same stratosphere as them. Having an extra week to get ready was just the icing on the cake.