The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off one of their most dominating wins in franchise history. All three phases of the game played a major roll in the 45-10 beat down of the Washington Redskins last week and it was much needed.
The Chiefs bounced back from a three game losing streak to take their record to 10-3, good enough for the fifth seed in the AFC Wildcard. But last night, the San Diego Chargers did the Chiefs a huge favor by knocking off the Broncos in Mile High setting up a potential tie between the Chiefs and Broncos for first place in the division. Now, Denver would own the tie breaker because they’ve won both of the head-to-head matches, but, if the Broncos slip up one more time and the Chiefs can win out, the Chiefs would become your 2013 AFC West Champions. Wouldn’t that be something?
None of that will matter though if the Chiefs cant go on the road this weekend and take down their long time rival, the Oakland Raiders. Kansas City took care of business in their week 6 match-up at Arrowhead stadium, defeating the Raiders 24-7. The Chiefs accounted for 9 sacks, two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and held the Raiders to just one touchdown.
While the score indicates some-what of a beat down, it truly doesn’t tell the whole story. The Chiefs and Raiders were tied 7-7 late in the third quarter before Raiders quarter back, Terrell Pryor, threw a costly interception that set up the Chiefs with short field position and eventually a Jamaal Charles touchdown. Chiefs kicker, Ryan Succop, hit a fourth quarter field goal and safety, Husain Abdullah, intercepted a pass and took it to the house making a final score of 24-7.
The Raiders did all they could to make that a game and though the numbers don’t say so, they gave the Chiefs all they wanted. Now, lets take a look at the numbers for this second match-up.
A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS:
The Chiefs have been down right terrible in there division games over the last 6 seasons. Including this year, the Chiefs post a record of 12-28 with in the AFC West. Even when they won the division in 2010, Kansas City was only 2-4 within the west. The Chiefs have an opportunity in front of them to finish .500 in the division with a win this week at Oakland and a win in San Diego in week 17. Kansas City also has the opportunity to sweep the Raiders, something they haven’t been able to do since the 2006 season.
The Raiders have lost five of their last seven games, including a three game losing streak that they’re currently on. Coach Dennis Allen said this week that the Raiders are going to stick with QB, Matt McGloin as their starter for the remainder of the season, only using Pryor as a spot starter, or when needed.
McGloin has played pretty well, despite the fact that they haven’t been winning games. The rookie who played his college ball at Penn State, has thrown 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions and has a QB rating of 86.1. He’s benefited from the 4th best rushing attack as well. The Raiders currently average 134.4 yards rushing per game, large part due to the emergence of running back, Rashad Jennings.
Jennings has started five games for the Raiders, carrying the ball 126 times for 588 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jennings didn’t play last week in their loss to the Jets, but their rushing game didn’t disappear. Marcel Reece carried the ball 19 times for 123 yards and 1 touchdown. Kansas City needs to contain the run almost exactly like they did last week against the number one rushing offense in Washington.
Dwayne Bowe has caught a touchdown in two out his last three games, taking his season total to five. I mentioned last week that Bowe needs to get his YAC going much like he did in 2010. He did exactly that with his 17 yard slant-and-go touchdown catch last week where he pin balled off defenders on his way into the end zone. Alex Smith needs to keep throwing the ball his way so he can stay hot for the Chiefs down the stretch.
The Kansas City defense got back to their winning ways last week as well, accounting for 6 sacks and an interception. Kansas City needs to get their pass rush going again especially if they want to get some wins in the post season.
MATCH-UPS TO WATCH:
Raiders wide receiver, Andre Holmes, has quickly become one of McGloin’s favorite targets over the past few weeks. I’m sure most of you were watching Thanksgiving day when the Raiders traveled to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. Holmes was the man in that game, catching 7 passes for 136 yards, including one that went for 35 yards. Holmes is a big receiver that could cause some problems for the Chiefs this Sunday. Sean Smith will likely be covering him most of the day and that should be a match-up to keep our eye on.
As I mentioned before, the Raiders rushing attack is among the best in the league. Kansas City cannot allow the Raiders to get their rushing attack going, whether it be Reece or Jennings or McFadden. The Raiders want to run the ball and it’s no secret. Kansas City is better off selling out against the run and forcing the Raiders undrafted rookie quarterback to beat them down the field.
The Chiefs offensive line has seemed to hit their groove which is crucial for the Chiefs run down the stretch. Since Donald Stephenson and Geoff Schwartz have taken on starting roles, Alex Smith hasn’t been touched and it’s reflected in how well Smith has been able to play from the pocket. Smith isn’t taking off and running as much as he was earlier in the year, thus resulting in bigger pass plays down the field. If you give the guy time, he will find the open people down the field. The better play of the offensive line has also helped the run game get going in a big way. Jamaal Charles now has 4 rushing touchdowns in his last three games. The Chiefs need to keep that going this week in Oakland.
The Chiefs are three point road favorites, which makes sense considering they’re 5-1 on the road this season. Kansas City needs this win to keep pace with the west and can officially book their ticket for the playoffs with the loss of either Miami or Baltimore.
No matter what the record of these two teams is, Raiders vs. Chiefs is always a dog fight and I expect nothing less. Oakland is looking for a signature win and this would be it, Kansas City is looking to stay hot and lock up there place in the playoffs. Both scenarios set the stage for what should be a great game.
The game starts at 3:15 PM, CDT on CBS.