This game has all the makings for an upset. The Raiders are not as bad as they've played. Ages, injuries and the tail whipping the Buccaneers gave them in the Super Bowl, have taken their toll on them this season.
Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, last years NFL MVP, has been a malcontent. Jerry Rice and Tim Brown appear to be slow and unable to get downfield. The offensive line is missing three starters who might not play this week. The defensive line is banged up and several starters might not play on Monday Night. The secondary is giving up big plays and the general defense is giving up more yardage than any Raiders teams the last five years.
This team is old, tired and infighting. Sounds like the Oakland Raiders. Sounds like a dangerous team for the Chiefs to be facing coming off their most impressive victory of the season.
The Chiefs, after their comeback victory in Green Bay, are playing the Raiders on the road and are in the final leg of playing four road games in five weeks. Nobody would blame them if they had a bad game. Everyone would understand that if they tanked on Monday Night it would mean very little to detour their Super Bowl hopes.
But I just can't see that happening. The Raiders present the weakest challenge to date for Kansas City. The Chiefs have superior talent at every position. They have better offensive talent and a much faster defense.
Sounds like a true mismatch. It is and the game should not even be close.
The Chiefs have downplayed the Raiders inefficiencies this season. They've talked a good game and respect the players on their roster but they know if they play their game, they'll win and it could be ugly.
Kansas City learned last week that the passing game can be effective. Trent Green found his 2002 touch and threw three touchdowns and amassed 400 yards in passing. He spread the ball around to seven different receivers.
Tony Gonzalez, who always has good games against the Raiders, should be primed for a big game against Oakland. Gonzalez, who is four receptions from becoming the Chiefs all time leading receiver, has caught touchdowns in each of the last three games. Teams are no longer able to double team Gonzalez.
Eddie Kennison, who caught the game winner in overtime against the Packers, and Johnnie Morton both are stepping up their play. Morton has caught touchdown passes the last two weeks and he is quickly becoming the go to receiver for Green. This week the Chiefs will try and incorporate Dante Hall more into the offense. If the passing game is working, then Priest Holmes should have a huge game.
The Raiders defensive line was unable to stop the Bears and Browns rushing attacks and they did not have a running back of the caliber of Holmes. The Chiefs rushing attack has been held in check the last three weeks. Holmes has looked a little slow but Kansas City has not featured the run in hopes of getting the passing game into a groove.
The Raiders are not hitting on any cylinders offensively. They have been unable to get running back Charlie Garner on track. The Raiders are only averaging fifteen rushing attempts per game because the Raiders have had to rely on their passing game.
Gannon has not thrown the ball downfield with any success this year. Rice, Brown and tight end Doug Jolley are simply not able to separate themselves from opposing defenders. Cornerbacks and linebackers are disrupting their short passing routes. Gannon has been forced to scramble as his offensive line has crumbled around him.
He has also publicly screamed at his coaches and players on the field. It's obvious that he's frustrated but his actions have actually hurt the team.
The Raiders have yet to play a complete game. In fact, Raiders cornerback Rod Woodson claimed the only goal of the team this week, should be to play a solid quarter.
That's good news for the Chiefs.
Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil has this team focused. He's not played on Monday Night since the late 70's. He knows how important this game is to his players and the respect they can earn with a resounding victory.
After all this is an AFC West game and a victory would give the Chiefs a 3-0 mark within the division.
Monday night the Chiefs can erase the bad taste they felt in last years game in Oakland when the Raiders shut them out. Many players talked about that game as being the low point of the season.
The Chiefs need to go for the juggler and squelch any thoughts by Oakland that they're going to be a player in the AFC West this season.
Chiefs should win big. Very big.
* The Chiefs have lost the last three games in Oakland. However, the Chiefs might not be facing a very hostile crowd. The game is far from a sellout.
* Dick Vermeil has never been 7-0 in his coaching career.
* A win over the Raiders on Monday Night would give the Chiefs three wins in the AFC West. That would also surpass their 2002 win total within the division. Last year the Chiefs only won two games in the AFC West.
* After the Raiders game the Chiefs only have four more road games this season.
* With their third road victory of the season last Sunday in Green Bay, the Chiefs already have one more win to date than they did all last season. The Chiefs were a horrific 2-6 last year on the road.
Fearless Prediction: Chiefs 38 – Raiders 17
Season Record : 5-1
2003 Game Recaps
Week #6: Chiefs 40 – Packers 34 OT
Week #5: Chiefs 24 – Broncos 23
Week #4: Chiefs 17 – Ravens 10
Week #3: Chiefs 42 – Texans 14
Week #2: Chiefs 41 - Steelers 20
Week #1: Chiefs 27 - Chargers 14