Second Look: Oakland Raiders

With not much to play for other than momentum and seeding in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs face a feisty Raiders team that would like to run the table in the AFC West.

Opponent: Oakland Raiders (7-8 record, 3rd place in AFC West)

Offensive Statistics: 152.3 rushing yards per game (ranked 2nd), 203 passing yards per game (ranked 23rd), 355.3 total yards per game (ranked 10th), 25.3 points per game (ranked 7th)

Defensive Statistics: Have allowed 134.9 rushing yards per game (ranked 29th), 196 passing yards per game (ranked 3rd), 330.9 total yards per game (ranked 13th), 24.1 points per game (ranked 21st)

Wins: St. Louis (16-14), San Diego (35-27), @ Denver (59-14), Seattle (33-3), Kansas City (23-20 OT), @ San Diego (28-13), Denver (39-23)

Losses: @ Tennessee (38-13), @ Arizona (24-23), Houston (31-24), @ San Francisco (17-9), @ Pittsburgh (35-3), Miami (33-17), @ Jacksonville (38-31), Indianapolis (31-26)

Notes: While the Chiefs have already clinched the AFC West, they still have something at stake in this game. A win will lock them in as the #3 seed in the playoffs, which traditionally comes with a few advantages.

First, the #3 seed gets to play the lowest-seeded wildcard team in the first round. Should they advance from there, the #3 seed goes on the road to play the #2 seed, rather than the #1. Then if they beat the #2 and the #1 seed also loses, the #3 seed ends up hosting the AFC Championship.

Since the Indianapolis Colts, currently the #4 seed, have yet to clinch their division, they'll be playing to win on Sunday. So the Chiefs will need to keep pace in order to remain in the #3 spot.

There are also some individual marks to keep an eye on. Jamaal Charles has an opportunity to not only win the NFL's rushing crown this weekend – he trails Houston's Arian Foster by 56 yards – but he can make NFL history if he raises his 6.39 yards per carry average up to 6.41 or better. Doing so would break Jim Brown's longstanding record of 6.40 yards by a player with at least 200 carries.

Either way, as long as Charles keeps his yards per carry average above 6.0, he'll become just the fourth player in league history to have an average that high with 200 carries or more. The other three players to have done it are a trio of Hall of Famers: Brown, Barry Sanders, and O.J. Simpson.

The Chiefs also have a chance, if Thomas Jones can gain 121 yards, to have two different backs reach 1,000 yards in the same season. And if Matt Cassel throws four touchdown passes, he'll set a new franchise record, breaking Len Dawson's long-standing mark of 30 TDs in a single season.

But the Raiders have something to play for too. A win over the Chiefs would give them a perfect 6-0 record against their foes in the AFC West this season. While impressive, that mark would come with a bit of dubious history attached, as the Raiders would become the only team in NFL history to sweep their division and not make the playoffs in the process.

We also shouldn't forget about last season and what it meant for the Chiefs to go on the road in the final game of the season and put a beating on the division-rival Broncos. That momentum seemed to carry over into the 2010 campaign, and the Raiders would surely like an opportunity to see if the same thing can happen to them.

Analysis: As we've said about each of the last two games, the key to this contest will be shutting down the opponent's running attack. The Chiefs passed with flying colors against the Rams and Titans, but the Raiders will be much harder to stop than either of those two teams were.

Led by Darren McFadden, Oakland has the second-best running game in the league, trailing only the Chiefs. The Raiders' rushing offense should prove to be a solid test, because the next-best run game K.C. would see in the playoffs would be Pittsburgh's, and they average 30 yards fewer a game than the Raiders do. If the Chiefs can keep Oakland's ground game in check, it would bode well for their chances of doing likewise in the playoffs.

Offensively, the Chiefs will surely try to establish their own run game against the Raiders' 29th ranked run defense, perhaps accomplishing some of those rushing milestones mentioned earlier. This task will be a lot easier if the Raiders are without Richard Seymour, who missed last week's game with a bad hamstring.

Of course, the Chiefs also have their undefeated home record on the line on Sunday. A win over the Raiders will give them a perfect 8-0 season at Arrowhead. Only one other team in the league – the New England Patriots – have been undefeated at home, and they're playing a home game this weekend with the #1 seed already locked up.

If the Patriots rest their starters and lose what's basically a meaningless game for them, then the Chiefs could finish the season as the only team in the league to go undefeated at home. Punching the Raiders in the mouth to accomplish it would be the icing on the cake.

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