The Chiefs/Raiders rivalry always has a few talking points and the 104th matchup between these bitter foes will be no different. Its funny how one player can change a game so drastically but when the Raiders traded for retired quarterback Carson Palmer early this week, he instantly changed the dynamic of this game - most likely in the Chiefs' favor.
Raiders head coach Hue Jackson has done a remarkable job of using the media to keep the Chiefs guessing as to who the Raiders will trot out onto the field Sunday. The Raiders have given first team snaps to Palmer, Kyle Boller, and Terrelle Pryor which may give the Chiefs a lot to prepare for but limits the Raiders in scheme and game plan. Regardless of who starts, none of Oakland's quarterbacks will have a game breaking day.
The Chiefs started out the season with a crowded stable of running backs but due to injuries, and some aging bodies, the Chiefs' best option at this point appears to be the one man everyone forgot about – fifth-year man Jackie Battle.
Battle doesn't get much love from the local media but does have some freakishly good skills that make you wonder why it has taken him five years to break onto the field. Battle weighs 238 pounds and has run the 40-yard dash in the 4.4-second range. With Thomas Jones and Le'Ron McClain still trying to get their jets warmed up, and the recent struggles of Dexter McCluster, the Chiefs will need to lean on Battle for the first time in his career. How he responds will likely determine the Chiefs' offensive success in Oakland.
Carr & Flowers
Both of the Chiefs' starting corners, Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers, have shown signs of turning into top NFL corners. But what has hampered the development of both has been their ability to be consistent, game-in and game-out.
Flowers received a significant pay raise earlier this season and Carr is now looking for the same. At this point Carr has been the most consistent defender the Chiefs have but the job of both gets tougher Sunday. The Raiders will establish their rushing game early but will take several shots down the field throughout the day. Darius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford have the speed to get down the field in a hurry but can Flowers and Carr defend them one on one? If they can't Palmer, Boller, or whoever else quarterbacks the Raiders will send the Chiefs crawling back to Kansas City with their tails between their legs.
Matt Cassel 2.0
We have seen several different Matt Cassels since the former Patriot came out of the shadow of Tom Brady and into the limelight of Arrowhead Stadium. Cassel has had Pro Bowl games and streaks of games where the Kansas City fan base is calling for his outright release. Until Cassel can string together several good games, he will continue to be questioned.
Many believe Cassel has the tools to be a premier quarterback, but lacks the ability to put a team on his back and lead them to victory like Brady, Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers. We saw that from Cassel against the Colts, however, and it will be interesting to see how he, and his coaching staff, responds to that game.
After starting 2011 in disastrous fashion (0-3), the Chiefs turned things around and carried a 2-0 winning streak into the bye week. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the statistics of teams coming off their bye week is not in their favor. Out of six teams that had their bye week in Week 5 only one (Baltimore) returned in Week 6 with a victory.
Chiefs head coach Todd Haley doesn't exactly have a good track record for having his teams prepared and is 1-1 after the bye week with Kansas City. The biggest blemish on Haley's report card thus far was his disastrous preseason/training camp preparation that took two lopsided losses against Buffalo and Detroit to correct. If Haley again struggles to have his team prepared for a Raiders team that is looking for a quarterback, the "fire Haley" talk will again be the topic on Monday morning.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Five to watch.
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