RB Priest Holmes has 14 rushing touchdowns, more individually than any other NFL team, and is on pace to tie the NFL record for rushing touchdowns (25) held by Emmitt Smith. Holmes had 21 rushing TDs last year and was within striking distance of Smith when he injured his hip and was knocked out for the season in Week 14.
TE Tony Gonzalez has regained his lead in receiving yards (567) among NFL tight ends. His six TDs rank second among tight ends. He has caught a touchdown pass in six of the Chiefs last seven games.
The running game is always important in the Chiefs-Raiders series. Since 1990, the team with the rushing edge is 21-6. Holmes ran for a season high 123 yards in the Monday night between the two this year when KC built and then held onto a 17-10 victory. Getting Holmes going early will be important.
Defensively, Kansas City has to stop the Oakland run and make Rick Mirer try to beat them. They'd like to try that with their front seven, but expect SS Greg Wesley to be a critical part of the run defense. That will open some one-on-one passing opportunities if Mirer can take advantage of them.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Chiefs defensive front seven vs. Raiders run blocking unit. Oakland is healthier in the offensive line than when the two teams played in October, so the Raiders should run for more than the 100 yards they managed in Oakland.
Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez vs. Raiders OLBs and strong safety Derrick Gibson. Without Tavian Smith down with a knee injury, the Raiders will play either Tim Johnson or Eric Barton over Gonzalez, who will command the attention of the strong safety. Cover Gonzalez with one guy and you risk giving up big plays. Cover him with two and you open run possibilities.
Raiders punter Shane Lechler vs. Chiefs KR Dante Hall. Two of the best in the business. Lechler can't afford to outkick his coverage.
Starting G Brian Waters (questionable, shoulder) did not practice Wednesday and may not be available until Friday at the earliest. He is truly questionable, which threatens this offensive line's streak of playing intact for 26 straight games. Backup Donald Willis isn't as mobile in run blocking. FS Jerome Woods (questionable, back) began experiencing back spasms before the Cincinnati game. He played through the pain, but it limited his mobility. The back was still hurting enough to make him miss Wednesday's practice, but Woods says he'll be available for Oakland. WR Marc Boerigter (questionable, quadriceps), a receiver in the double-tight end offense and a key special teams player, missed Wednesday's practice but is expected to be available later in the week.