RB Priest Holmes, who will miss a fourth consecutive game this week with a knee injury, was not present in the fourth quarter of the past four KC losses -- all of which saw the Chiefs in position to either tie the game or win it with either a touchdown or field goal in crunch time.
SS Willie Pile will make his second NFL start this week for the injured Greg Wesley. Pile will at least have the benefit of taking all first-team reps in practice -- something he didn't have when he was thrown into the starting lineup last week only after Wesley was injured in pre-game warm-up. Pile's first assignment was handling San Diego's Antonio Gates, the AFC's reception leader who caught two TD's passes. The Chiefs hope he'll be better prepared for the Raiders.
TE Tony Gonzalez, in 14 games (12 as a starter) against the Raiders, has 61 receptions for 873 yards and five TD's with two 100-yard games. Both those century games, however, came in 2000.
CB Dexter McCleon, who returned to his role as nickel back only last week against San Diego after a three-week absence, has been working this week at safety because of injuries to starters Jerome Woods and Greg Wesley.
GAME PLAN: >BR> The likely prospect that Tyrone Wheatley won't play should help the Chiefs concentrate on stopping Kerry Collins and the Raiders' suddenly solid downfield passing game. Chiefs defenders have been burned in recent weeks for missing interceptions or failing to stop receivers immediately, whereupon short- to medium-range receptions have gone for big yardage. They have to pressure Collins and keep his receivers in front of them.
On offense, the Chiefs have to find the run-pass mix that works most effectively in a play-action passing game. Tony Gonzalez who had a 3-87 game in Oakland last October, will be a better weapon of choice than WRs Johnnie Morton and Eddie Kennison working against Charles Woodson and Phillip Buchanon.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez vs. Raiders SS Marques Anderson. Not a good matchup for the Raiders (Gonzalez is 6-4, Anderson 5-11) so Oakland will have to double Gonzalez, hold him up at the line or mug him to the point that he's not a factor, which he wasn't in catching only 4-36 in a Chiefs win over the Raiders in KC last November.
Raiders WR's Jerry Porter, Doug Gabriel and Ronald Curry vs. Chiefs CBs Eric Warfield, William Bartee and Dexter McCleon. Advantage Raiders, especially now that Collins is looking downfield for the speedy Porter and the rapidly developing two youngsters.
QB Trent Green (questionable, ribs) did not practice Wednesday, but the Chiefs think he'll be available for Oakland. He continued to play in the final series against San Diego after taking a couple of shots to his ribs. X-rays showed nothing broken, but Green was experiencing considerable soreness early in the week. The Chiefs think he might be able to do a limited practice Thursday.
RB Priest Holmes (out, knee) will miss a fourth straight game with a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. RB Derrick Blaylock will start in his place.
DE Vonnie Holliday (out, groin) played sparingly against San Diego last week and will miss the Oakland game. His place in the lineup, and likely in the Chiefs' future plans, has been taken over by rookie DE Jared Allen.
SS Greg Wesley (doubtful, hamstring) is not expected to play after becoming injured before the San Diego game last week. First-year backup Willie Pile will start a second straight game in his absence.
TE Kris Wilson (doubtful, ankle) was supposed to play in his first NFL game sometime in early December after breaking his leg in the preseason, but he turned an ankle in practice last week and set back his schedule.
FS Jerome Woods (questionable, knee) did not practice Wednesday and is on the doubtful side of questionable, Vermeil said. Shaunard Harts will start a second straight game in his position.
LB Monty Beisel (questionable, calf) will likely miss a fourth straight game after experiencing what coach Dick Vermeil called a relapse in his recovery from a calf injury. Quinton Caver will start at Beisel's right outside backer spot.