Thu Nov 19 5:57pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
Las Vegas Raiders strong safety Jeff Heath (38) runs after making an interception against against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Preparing to play Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs can cause nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators in the best of circumstances.
With speed on the outside in Tyreek Hill, perhaps the best receiving tight end in Travis Kelce and a dynamic rookie running back in Clyde Edwards-Helaire for Mahomes to utilize, the Chiefs have had the NFL's most prolific offense the past few years.
Now the Las Vegas Raiders (6-3) have to try to slow Kansas City (8-1) down in an AFC West showdown on Sunday night despite missing 10 defensive players, including six starters, in practice this week because of COVID-19 protocols.
''I don't know how we can beat these guys with a full lineup at practice, let alone three-quarters of your lineup not here all week,'' defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. ''We're playing the world champs. What don't they have? They have a great quarterback, great receivers, great tight ends, line is physical. And they're coming off a bye, so it's a daunting task.''
The Raiders have had issues on defense for much of the year before a recent streak of success the past three games thanks in part to one game in bad weather and a rough outing from Denver's Drew Lock.
The test of whether those improvements were real was supposed to come this week against the Chiefs but now it will be hard to tell much thanks to the absences.
Starting linebacker Cory Littleton tested positive for the coronavirus last week and missed one game. He hasn't returned to practice yet and there's no word on his condition.
The problems only multiplied when starting defensive end Clelin Ferrell was placed on the COVID-19 list Tuesday following a positive test, along with starting slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, who was a ''high risk'' close contact.
Seven more players were added to the COVID-19 list on Wednesday after more contact tracing, including starting safety Johnathan Abram, starting defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Johnathan Hankins, along with reserves Isaiah Johnson, Arden Key and Kendal Vickers, as well as practice squad defensive lineman David Irving.
Many of those players could return by Sunday if they keep testing negative and have no symptoms, but they will still miss the entire week of practice. They are taking part in virtual meetings and doing whatever conditioning they can at home.
''It's tough,'' Guenther said. ''It's tough enough when you have a full allotment of guys at practice. You've got to get them on the Zoom. It's just not the same when you're not taking the reps. It'll be a big challenge for us either way, whoever can play, whenever they can get here to play to get them caught up on the plans of those things.''
Perhaps the only potential bright spot is these teams played last month so the absent players are familiar with the Chiefs.
After allowing 24 points in the first half, the Raiders stiffened up in the second half and allowed only eight points on five drives as Jeff Heath recorded the only interception of the season against Mahomes and the Las Vegas line managed to generate some pressure without blitzing.
But that only goes so far.
''The familiarity part is good, but I think again, it's a different opponent,'' Guenther said. ''They're coming off a bye week. They have changed somewhat over the last three or four weeks since we played them. But yeah, the familiarity of the offense helps in that we aren't playing an unfamiliar opponent. They'll have recall on some of those things, so that will be helpful.''
NOTES: RB Jalen Richard (chest) missed a second straight practice. ... CB Keisean Nixon (groin) was upgraded to a full participant. ... S Erik Harris (oblique), FB Alec Ingold (ribs) and T Sam Young (knee, back) all remain limited.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 13
The New York Giants placed starting outside linebacker Kyle Fackrell (calf) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with a calf injury. Fackrell will miss at least the next three games, leaving the Giants very short-handed at the position. He was tied for second on the team with three sacks and was playing close to 100 percent of the defensive snaps before suffering the injury in the Week 12 win over the Bengals. No outside linebacker on the active roster has more than one sack this year. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are also on IR. Jamaal Sheard and rookies Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown could start in Week 13 against the Seahawks, making the New York defense one to avoid for fantasy managers after they were a popular streaming defense against Cincy.
The Denver Broncos activated quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday after all three had PCR tests come back negative on Monday. They will all be eligible to play in Week 13 against the Chiefs. So barring additional team discipline, the Broncos won't be forced to use a practice-squad wide receiver under center against their division rivals. If Lock returns as the starter for this offense, it'll be excellent news for receivers Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler and tight end Noah Fant. Denver will likely be forced to throw often to keep up with the Chiefs high-octane offense, too, but Lock's inconsistency this season keeps him as a low-end QB2. The 24-year-old was 24-for-40 for 254 yards and two interceptions in the first meeting against KC back in Week 7.
The Atlanta Falcons placed wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (toe) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday after he left the Week 12 win over the Raiders with a toe injury. In a corresponding move, the team activated receiver Laquon Treadwell from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and added him to the 53-man roster. Zaccheaus popped up for a couple decent games this year, but it his production was inconsistent on a weekly basis and he was too far down the team's receiving depth chart to be a viable fantasy option in most leagues. The second-year wideout's best game came in Week 9 against the Broncos when he had four receptions for 103 yards and his first touchdown of the season. If he doesn't make it back this year, he'll finish with 20 receptions (32 targets) for 274 yards and the one touchdown. Christian Blake and Brandon Powell could see some more playing time as the No. 4 wideout with Zaccheaus out.
Baltimore Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II are both eligible to be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the Week 12 game against the Steelers on Wednesday, but it's not a given that either will play. Both players have been isolated since testing positive for the virus on Nov. 22 and aren't allowed to fly on the team plane on Tuesday night. At this point, if you have Dobbins or Ingram on your roster, you've likely benched them for other running backs that already played in Week 12. Even if they both play, Gus Edwards could see the majority of backfield touches and will be the best fantasy play of the trio. Those that picked up Edwards in order to start him this week are hoping that neither Dobbins nor Ingram suit up in the tough matchup against the undefeated Steelers.
The Baltimore Ravens activated defensive tackle Brandon Williams, quarterback Trace McSorley, nickelback Tavon Young and cornerback Khalil Dorsey from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. They could activate more players from the list before kickoff against the Steelers on Wednesday. McSorley should be the backup to Robert Griffin III on Wednesday with Lamar Jackson testing positive for COVID-19 and being unavailable this week. The return of Williams will be good news for Baltimore's defensive line, who will again be without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell. The Ravens Defense is more of a gamble in DFS and season-long leagues against the undefeated Steelers, but inclement weather is expected and could make things tougher on both offenses.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) is 'just kind of beat up,' according to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Cook briefly left the Week 12 game against the Carolina Panthers but returned to finish with 83 total yards and 22 touches. He leads the league with 1,385 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns on the season. The Vikings' schedule gets much tougher following the Week 13 home date against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he'll remain a matchup-proof RB1 due to his heavy usage.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones, DE Jordan Willis and practice squad TE Daniel Helm will be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and practice Thursday, Dec. 3, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Los Angeles Chargers TE Matt Sokol and DB Jaylen Watkins were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Las Vegas Raiders LB Vic Beasley, PK Dominik Eberle, DE David Irving and DE Chris Smith were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Houston Texans WR Chad Hansen, DT Corey Liuget, WR Steven Mitchell Jr. and WR Damion Ratley were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Terry Godwin, DB Josh Nurse, DT Caraun Reid and PK Aldrick Rosas were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Dallas Cowboys DB Deante Burton, OT Jordan Mills, DB Rashard Robinson and OT William Sweet were named protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Denver Broncos RB LeVante Bellamy, TE Troy Fumagalli, DB Alijah Holder and LB Josh Watson were made protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Cleveland Browns OT Michael Dunn, QB Kyle Lauletta, PK Matthew McCrane and OT Alex Taylor were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Free-agent WR Joe Webb (Lions) is visiting the New York Giants Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Chicago Bears QB Tyler Bray was designated as a protected practice squad player for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Cincinnati Bengals QB Kevin Hogan, WR Stanley Morgan, RB Jacques Patrick and TE Mitchell Wilcox were named as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Buffalo Bills DE Bryan Cox Jr., C Jordan Devey, C Jonotthan Harrison and LB Darron Lee were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller and CB Bradley Roby were officially placed on the Reserve/Suspended list Tuesday, Dec. 1. The Texans also activated DT Andrew Brown from the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list.
Arizona Cardinals TE Seth DeValve, DE Michael Dogbe, RB D.J. Foster and WR A.J. Richardson were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.