LAS VEGAS — The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Las Vegas Raiders 31-13 to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC on Saturday. The Chiefs clinched their seventh straight AFC West title with a Week 15 win over the Houston Texans and locked in a first-round bye with Saturday’s regular-season finale.
The Raiders, meanwhile, will enter the offseason with questions at the quarterback position. Jarrett Stidham went 0-2 in place of Derek Carr to close out the season, while Carr stepped away from the team. The 6-11 Raiders finish a disappointing season on the heels of last season’s playoff berth.
Kansas City Chiefs
This might sound odd for a team that has won five straight games, finished 14-3 in the regular season and clinched the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed, but the Chiefs finally played the game they were looking for.
No close game against a sub-.500 opponent. No helping that opponent with turnovers, missed kicks or penalties.
Instead, the Chiefs were solid in all phases in their win over the Raiders. The Chiefs haven’t played a complete game like this since a Week 7 win over the San Francisco 49ers — and it happened just in time for the playoffs.
Buying Kadarius Toney’s breakout performance: Toney isn’t Tyreek Hill, but he’s as close a player that the Chiefs have since trading Hill. Toney, when he’s healthy, looms as an important player, much as he was against the Raiders, when the Chiefs found multiple ways to get him the ball and use his quickness in the open field. Look for the Chiefs to continue to put Toney in a similar role in the playoffs.
Under-the-radar stat that matters: The Chiefs were last in the league in field goal percentage and near the bottom in PAT percentage heading into the weekend, so it’s no small thing that Harrison Butker made all of his kicks, including a 44-yard field goal and four PATs. That may not sound like much, but it provided some confidence for Butker heading into the playoffs.
The Raiders get their first touchdown of the day as Jarrett Stidham finds Hunter Renfrow for the 11-yard touchdown.
Las Vegas Raiders
Flat, uninspired and not playing smart football is no way to end a season and yet, the Raiders accomplished all three in the loss to the Chiefs. The defeat came just a week after playing perhaps their most inspired game of the season, albeit in an overtime loss to the 49ers.
On a day the Chiefs were literally playing “Ring around the Rosie” in a red zone huddle in the first half, the Raiders had little to no answers on either side of the ball. The season began with high expectations thanks to the addition of All-Pro receiver Davante Adams and a new offensive scheme with the arrival of coach Josh McDaniels. A playoff team a year ago at 10-7, the Raiders saw their roller-coaster season — which included the benching of franchise QB Carr — come to a merciful end with a 6-11 record.
The Raiders, as McDaniels’ mentor Bill Bellichick might say, are into the 2023 season.
QB breakdown: All eyes were on Stidham, making his second career start, to see if he could replicate last week’s showing of 365 yards passing yards with three touchdowns against the 49ers’ top-ranked defense. The Chiefs watched the tape, too, and planned accordingly. Kansas City’s defense harassed Stidham, whose right (passing) elbow was black and blue this week, sacking him five times and forcing him into two turnovers. Stidham, who will become a free agent and could be in the mix to replace Carr next season, finished with 219 yards passing in completing 22 of 36 attempts with one touchdown and an interception.
Pivotal play: It happened so early for the Raiders that it probably wouldn’t have mattered, but given the number of ridiculous highlight reel catches Adams had had this season, Stidham’s deep jump ball in the end zone going right through Adams’ gloved hands on their opening drive was strange. Instead of answering the Chiefs’ initial touchdown drive with one of their own, the Raiders had to settle for a 54-yard field goal.
Silver lining: Sure, Josh Jacobs, who missed practice this week as he was back in Oklahoma with his sick father, was held to just 45 yards rushing. But he stretched his lead for the NFL’s rushing title to 205 yards over the Cleveland Browns’ Nick Chubb. Entering Sunday, when the Browns play the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacobs has 1,653 yards and Chubb has 1,448 yards. Stay tuned. Adams caught five passes, giving him his third straight 100-catch season. And don’t forget about edge rusher Maxx Crosby, who had a sack to give him a career-high 12.5 sacks.
Eye-popping NextGen stat: The Raiders had multiple eight-minute drives on offense in a game for the first time this season. Those two drives resulted in…a field goal. That’s not going to get the job done, obviously, and whoever the Raiders’ QB is next season has some work to do to fix this in concert with McDaniels.