When: Sunday, Dec. 14
Time: Noon, CT
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo
TV Broadcast: CBS – Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots; DirecTV – 708.
Radio Broadcast: 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: 140 (Oak.), 117 (KC). XM: 232 (KC).
The Kansas City Chiefs got some good news on Saturday when it was decided that star running back Jamaal Charles (aka “The Entire Offense”) was declared good to go for the Chiefs game Sunday against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead. Charles had been slowed by knee and ankle injuries during the week and missed practice time. The Chiefs are out of options if they want to make the playoffs in 2014 – they have to win their last three games of the regular season, beginning with the Raiders.
The Raiders began the Chiefs current three-game losing streak with a 24-20 Week 12 win on a rainy miserable Thursday night game at Oakland. It was Oakland’s first win of the season after a 0-10 start that saw their head coach get fired mid-season.
The Chiefs allowed 179 rushing yards – by far, the most by Oakland this season – and watched rookie quarterback Derek Carr cap a 17-play, 80-yard drive with a go-ahead nine-yard touchdown pass to James Jones with 1:42 to go.
Kansas City went on to lose two more games the following weeks, but at least those two were to division leading teams, the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals. Those two losses still stung, but for Kansas City fans, the loss to the Raiders was unforgivable considering the Chiefs had overcome an 0-2 start to the season and rode a 7-1 winning streak into a first place tie with Denver going into the Raiders game.
The Chiefs have now dropped from a first-place tie with Denver to 10th place in the AFC playoff race. Luckily, if they can win their last three games against Oakland this week, next week at the Steelers, and then a Week 17 matchup with San Diego at Arrowhead to end the regular season, the Chiefs will make the post-season for the second year in a row.
But first things first – beat the Raiders.
If the Chiefs want to win Sunday and not break the hearts of their loyal fan base, they need to do the following:
Convert third downs on offense and keep the Raiders from doing the same on defense: In that Raiders win three weeks ago, Oakland converted on third down 8 of 16 times and picked up two fourth downs on the game-winning drive. The Chiefs, on the other hand, were abysmal at moving the chains and converted only 2 of 14 third down attempts. The defensive shortcomings for Kansas City were agonizingly on display during Oakland’s game-winning drive at the end of the contest when the Chiefs simply couldn’t get them off the field.
On Sunday, the Chiefs needs to be better than 50% at picking up third downs and keep the Raiders below that mark.
Get a touchdown reception from a wide receiver: I know the Chiefs don’t care if their receiving corps don’t have a touchdown reception going into Week 15, but their fans do. You have to go back to the 1977 New Orleans Saints to find a group of receivers as unproductive at this point of the season. Heck, even Chiefs safeties Hussain Abdullah and Eric Berry have touchdown catches – off interceptions turned into pick-sixes, of course. The Chiefs need to get one this week and it will go to … Albert Wilson. Book it.
Oh, this is the point where your Chiefs Examiner could go all technical and football-nerdy about how the Chiefs need to expand their passing game to have a snowball’s chance in Heck to keep up with the Steelers and Chargers the next two weeks, but this one is all about the fans and perception. Plus, an added benefit is that if a WR can grab a TD pass, the Raiders might all pass out from shock and KC wins the game by forfeit. Then again, that’s a danger to the Arrowhead faithful too.
Chiefs defenders … if the ball hits you in the hands, catch it: The Chiefs had three solid opportunities to intercept the ball and force a turnover last week in a 3-point loss to Arizona, but dropped them all. Two plays before Derek Carr hit James Jones with that game-winning pass in Oakland, Hussain Abdullah had his hands on the ball at the sidelines that could have been a game-saving interception for KC. Much like the point above with the receivers catching a touchdown pass, if a Chief actually intercepts the ball, Oakland might pass out.
Prediction: Despite the win against the Chiefs earlier and last week’s win at home against the 49ers, this is a bad Raiders team. Bad teams generally stink on the road and if the Chiefs crowd can give the home team an early jolt of energy, this game is over by the fourth quarter.
Score: Chiefs 31, Raiders 17.