When: Thursday, Nov. 20
Time: 7:25 p.m., CT
Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California
TV Broadcast: NFL Network (8:25 PM ET): Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter); KSHB-TV locally in Kansas City; DirecTV – 212.
Radio Broadcast: Westwood One: Bob Wischusen, Dan Fouts, Anthony Becht (Field reporter). Over 60 radio stations on the Chiefs Radio Network; Mitch Holthus, Len Dawson, Kendall Gammon, commentators; Chiefs Spanish Radio: La Gran D (1340 AM);
SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 93 (KC), 92 (Oak.). XM: 88 (WW1), 225 (KC), 226 (Oak.).
IT’S RAIDERS WEEK!!!!! Well, sort of.
The Kansas City Chiefs have jetted out to the West Coast to take on a team that used to inspire absolute hatred from the local fan base and coaching staffs from Hank Stram through Marty Schottenheimer, but now just kind of inspires … meh!
But that is what happens when the Oakland Raiders went from a team full of (real or perceived) renegades, thugs, and villains like Marv Hubbard, Ben Davidson, Ted Hendricks, and Lester Hayes to … Derek Carr and the broken-down, over the hill running back tandem of Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden? Yeesh!
The Raiders are 0-10 and are a very legitimate candidate to remain winless on the season and wrap up the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft next spring. Kansas City is 7-3 and, after hard-fought wins over the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks over the last two weeks, is on an absolute roll. They are tied with the Denver Broncos for first place in the AFC West.
There are many people that worry about this being a “trap game” for KC after grinding through the part of their schedule where they faced four outstanding defenses … an emotional win Sunday versus the defending champion Seahawks … and a short work week of preparation to get ready for a Thursday night game. Throw in this being a road game and the travel involved to get to Oakland, and some think the Chiefs could be in danger of overlooking the Raiders.
Your Chiefs Examiner is wondering … how????
As in, how are the Raiders supposed to pull of this monumental upset against a team that has already been much better than anyone thought they would be at this point of the season?
Kansas City’s defense ranks eighth with 326.0 total yards allowed per game, and first with 201.6 through the air. Despite playing against some of the top QBs in the league, they’ve yet to allow a 300-yard passing performance. And they still have not given up a rushing touchdown through eleven games this year. They should be prepared for another dominant effort on defense Thursday night.
Oakland is easily the worst offensive team in the league, averaging 276.4 yards — making it the only club with a mark below 300. The Raiders are averaging 15.2 points overall and have gained 227.0 yards per game in the last three, rushing for a combined 138 in that span.
Chiefs running back, Jamaal Charles, who rushed for a season-high 159 yards against the Seahawks last week, has run for 62 yards more on his own than the Raiders’ 630 this season.
In fact, the Raiders are averaging just 63 yards rushing per game, which would be the lowest average for any NFL team since 1946. Let me repeat that … the lowest rushing yards per game average by any NFL team since the year after WORLD WAR II ENDED!
The Raiders have two rushing touchdowns this year. Charles got that in the first half last week versus one of the best defenses in the league. Some people are geeked that the Raiders got 43 yards rushing on only four carries from second-year RB Latavius Murray in a 13-6 loss to the San Diego Chargers last week. The Chiefs just got done facing the #1 rushing team in the league last week with Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson rolling up 200 yards rushing. So why aren’t the Chiefs worried about facing an unknown running back like Murray?
Because the Chiefs still have not given up a rushing touchdown, which needs to be repeated, and if Murray was that good, he wouldn’t have just 10 carries at this point in the year. Your Chiefs Examiner is just sayin’ ….
So how are the Chiefs going to keep focused Thursday night and slap down the Raiders, keep them winless, and stay in first place in the AFC West? Here are three things fans should watch for:
Score early and take the crowd out of the game: For a normal team, having a home game on national TV where you’re the only game on, playing one of your most historic rivals, and honoring an iconic Hall of Fame player (punter Ray Guy) at halftime should be enough mojo to keep them playing for four quarters. And in Oakland, those fans in The Black Hole have become legendary for a reason. They are passionate, fiercely loyal, and can be loud.
However, like fans of every other professional sports team, it’s much easier to be that way when your team is going good. In the Raiders five home games so far this year, they’ve given up 30, 38, 31, 24, and 41 points to the opposition, and the 24 points was to an Arizona team that is winning with defense, not offense.
The Chiefs need to do what they did the last few weeks and come out strong, scoring early and often. If the Chiefs can get up by a couple of touchdowns by halftime, this game might be over.
Win the turnover battle: Former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil when asked what the keys were to a successful season, said, “Keep losing teams losing”. In other words, beat the teams you’e supposed to beat. The best way to keep a losing team down is to not give them any hope of staying in the game by turning the ball over. In this respect, the Chiefs are one of the stingiest in the league. (Admit it … when they fumbled twice against Seattle last week, you were STUNNED! The Chiefs just don’t do that.)
The Chiefs simply need to hang onto the ball and they will win this game. Trying to be objective, your Chiefs Examiner believes the only two ways the Raiders win this game is to force multiple turnovers (like +3 or more) or score multiple special teams touchdowns. Against the Chiefs, neither one of those scenarios is likely.
Dominate the line of scrimmage: Ok … I’ll admit that this is the biggest “No duh!” key to victory because if you dominate the lines of scrimmage against almost any opponent, you’ll probably win the game. Offensively, the Chiefs need to pound away at the Raiders and have two or three of those long double-digit-down drives that eat up seven or eight minutes of clock time. Defensively, with virtually no running game to worry about, the Chiefs can spend all their time shutting down the Raiders passing game by pressuring rookie QB Derek Carr. Rookie QBs under the pressure of Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Dontari Poe and the occasional safety blitz will throw the ball up for grabs.
Prediction: I might have egg on my face Friday if the Chiefs lose this game 15-14 after the Raiders kick five field goals, but I also trust Andy Reid to have this team prepared and for Alex Smith to run an error-free offensive scheme. Facial eggs aside, I see a total domination by the Chiefs and many subs playing in the fourth quarter like a pre-season game. This contest is over right after halftime.
Score: Chiefs 34, Raiders 10.