Quick Hitters: Chiefs Offensive Game Plan

When the Kansas City Chiefs line up against the Oakland Raiders tonight, there are several keys on offense to look for. Offensive Coordinator Al Saunders is one of the best in the league at exploiting weaknesses in defensive teams.

Although the Raiders have several obvious strengths on defense, particularly the big defensive tackles in the middle in Ted Washington and Warren Sapp. They also have an active middle linebacker in Danny Clark, and strong corner play on one side of the field in cornerback Charles Woodson.

With Chiefs offensive tackle Willie Roaf out for this game, Al Saunders will need to get creative in his game plan. To overcome the loss of Roaf, look for more two and three tight end sets to help reserve lineman Jordan Black. This will limit the number of wide receivers the Chiefs can put on the field, but any of the Chiefs' receivers or backs has the ability to catch passes, and quarterback Trent Green will have no problem finding the open man.

Here are the offensive keys to the game:

Tony Gonzalez:
The Raiders had difficulty defending the New England Patriots tight end Ben Watson in their first meeting last week. Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez should have success against the Raiders all over the field, but particularly in the red zone. Gonzalez will challenge the Raiders safeties vertically, and stretch Oakland's oversized linebackers from sideline to sideline.

Screen Game:
Oakland's defensive tackle tandem, although talented, is advanced in age. Washington is 37, Sapp is 32. In the game against New England, the tackles looked worn down in the second half, eventually allowing the Patriots some success in the running game and negating the Raiders ability to effectively rush the passer. Look for the Chiefs to accelerate the process early by going to the screen game. Allowing the two tackles to get up field, and then have to chase, should wear the big men down, allowing the Chiefs to pound the ball with running back Larry Johnson later in the game.

Stretch Plays:
The Raiders have 3-4 hybrid defensive end/linebackers playing the outside linebacker positions playing in the 4-3 in Tyler Brayton and Grant Irons. Each of those guys weighs in at about 280 pounds apiece. If the Chiefs can stretch the field with sweeps, which are a major strength, the running backs should be able to turn the corner.

Of course, when Al Saunders is your offensive coordinator, there's no telling what the Chiefs are going to do. Saunders is a master of dictating match-ups before the snap with formation shifts, and once the play has begun with routes and blocking schemes. It will be interesting to see how he calls tonight's game.

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