Raiders look to rebound with visit to Falcons

Raiders look to rebound with visit to Falcons

After seeing their AFC West title hopes all but squashed with an emotional last-minute home loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, the Las Vegas Raiders will try to avoid a letdown when they travel to face the NFC South cellar-dwelling Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon.Las Vegas head coach Jon Gruden pulled out some of his best cliches after Wednesday’s practice to make sure the Raiders (6-4), who trail the first-place Chiefs (9-1) by three games with six to go, don’t overlook the Falcons (3-7), who enter off an ugly 24-9 loss at New Orleans.”This is the best 3-7 team I’ve ever seen,” Gruden said. “I don’t know how they’ve lost some of those games, and I’m sure they don’t either.”It was easy to pin the reason for Sunday night’s loss to the Chiefs for Las Vegas: Patrick Mahomes.After the Raiders took a 31-28 lead on a one-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to tight end Jason Witten with 1:43 to go, Mahomes calmly drove the Chiefs 75 yards in seven plays, connecting with a wide-open Travis Kelce for a game-winning 22-yard touchdown pass with 28 seconds left to pull out the 35-31 victory.Had Las Vegas been able to hold on, it would have closed to within one-game of the Chiefs and owned the head-to-head tiebreaker. Instead, the Raiders find themselves in a dogfight for a wild card playoff spot.”We are what we are,” Gruden said. “We’re 6-4 with six games left, and we’ve got to be ready for Atlanta.”The play of the offensive line was the biggest issue for Atlanta in its loss to the Saints. Quarterback Matt Ryan, who ranks third in the NFL with 2,978 passing yards and needs just 22 yards Sunday to become the eighth quarterback in NFL history with 11 consecutive seasons with 3,000 or more passing yards, was under constant duress, getting sacked eight times and taking 11 quarterback hits.Ryan finished 19-of-37 for 232 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions and a passer rating of 48.5, his lowest since a 47.2 pass rating in a 27-13 loss to Arizona on Oct. 27, 2013.The run game also struggled, garnering just 52 yards on 14 attempts with the longest rush covering just seven yards.