Game Snapshot: Chiefs/Raiders

KICKOFF: Saturday, 8:00 ET GAMEDATE: 12/23/06 SURFACE: Grass TV: NFL Network, Bryant Gumbel, Dick Vermeil

SERIES: 96th meeting. Kansas City leads the series 50-43-2 and has won the last seven matchups. The Chiefs won the last meeting in Arrowhead Stadium this season, with rookie Jarrad Page intercepting a pass in the end zone to secure a win.

2006 RANKINGS: Chiefs: offense 17th (8th rush, 21st pass); defense 15th (19th rush, 14th pass). Raiders: offense 32nd (28th rush, 31st pass); defense 4th (26th rush, 1st pass)

PREDICTION: Chiefs 20-13

KEYS TO THE GAME: Coming off their third shutout loss of the season, the Raiders are well aware that they must play a high level of defense to even be competitive. With the strength of their pass coverage this season, expect the Raiders to utilize some run blitzes on early downs in an effort to contain RB Larry Johnson and create third-and-long situations. QB Trent Green has not been playing particularly well, and Johnson called out the play-calling this week as being too predictable. The Chiefs don't have to score much, because the Raiders' offense is in shambles with poor offensive line play and no running game. QB Aaron Brooks appears to be developing chemistry with WR Ronald Curry, but the vertical passing game still isn't an area that will scare the Chiefs.

FAST FACTS: Chiefs: Have won the past seven meetings. ... TE Tony Gonzalez needs one touchdown reception to tie Shannon Sharpe (62) for the most ever by a tight end. Raiders: DE Derrick Burgess has 27 sacks in 30 games with Oakland. ... Brooks is 1-15 in his past 16 starts.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Chiefs:

--RB Larry Johnson still has a shot at the NFL rushing title, though the 199-yard game the Chiefs allowed to San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson was a substantial blow. With three games to play, Johnson trails Tomlinson by 110 yards.

--G Will Shields is, for at least the third straight year, a topic of discussion in the season's final weeks as speculation grows Shields will retire. He nearly hung it up after the 2004 season but OT Willie Roaf talked him into a return. Roaf retired this offseason.

--S Jarrad Page will make his first return as a player to his hometown of Oakland, Calif., since joining the NFL this season. Page played collegiately at UCLA.

--TE Tony Gonzalez will pass Shannon Sharpe for the NFL record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with two more. Gonzalez is also No. 2 to Sharpe in receiving yards and receptions by a tight end.

--LB Kawika Mitchell has opened up a sizable team lead in tackles. His 97 total stops beat No. 2 S Sammy Knight by 24.

Raiders:

--QB Aaron Brooks was added to the injury list with a sore neck. He missed practice Thursday and is listed as probable but said he expected to play.

--LT Robert Gallery, who returns Saturday night against Kansas City, never started more than six consecutive games this season.

--LB Sam Williams is the only Raiders linebacker other than Kirk Morrison to record a sack this season.

--PK Sebastian Janikowski is 2-for-6 on field goal attempts of 50 yards and beyond this season and 2-for-9 since the start of the 2005 season.

--RB Justin Fargas has 18 first downs in 142 rushing attempts, or one every 7.8 carries.

INSIDE THE CAMPS

Chiefs:

The Chiefs badly need a win, which makes the timing perfect for Saturday's game.

They're playing the Raiders, which is fortunate not so much because the Raiders are bad, though they most certainly are that. It's more that the Chiefs just have Oakland's number. The last seven meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer and the Chiefs have won all seven.

"They tend to always commit a foul or mess something up at the end of the game," defensive end Jared Allen said of the Raiders. "We know we can beat them at the end of the game because we've done it seven times. This last time we were down 13-10 and had to come back and win."

Indeed, the last time the Chiefs and Raiders met, Raiders quarterback Aaron Brooks threw an interception in the back of the end zone on what would have been the game-winning drive. Last season, Larry Johnson scored a game-winning touchdown with no time left on the clock on a noted gamble by then-coach Dick Vermeil, who went for the win instead of the tying field goal.

There was the game in which a bad Chiefs defense stopped Tim Brown on the 1-yard line and the game in which the Chiefs broke up Oakland's final pass in the end zone.

Quarterback Trent Green attributed the games' closeness to the divisional rivalry. He didn't know why the Chiefs always seem to win.

"I know that in my six years here the majority of our division games have been very close," Green said. "We have just been fortunate."

Raiders:

--The Oakland Raiders' philosophy with regard to blocking this season as mandated by coach Art Shell was established early in training camp.

Never take a backward step. Man-to-man blocking schemes replaced zone blocking schemes. Co-offensive line coach Jackie Slater referred to it as "not paying for the same real estate twice." Fourteen games into the season, the Raiders are ranked 28th in rushing and have surrendered a league-high 66 sacks.

"On a consistent basis, it hasn't caught on," Shell said. "We see at times it's there. We see that maybe you got three to four guys getting it done but it's not getting done by all five or the sixth guy, the tight end, or the lead back, then it becomes a problem. You can have three or four guys winning and one guy can break down and the whole play will collapse."

Part of Oakland's problem has been injuries. Only center Jake Grove and right tackle Langston Walker have lined up for every game. Left tackle Robert Gallery twice missed games with a groin injury before going out Nov. 19 with a dislocated left elbow. He returns to the lineup Saturday night against Kansas City.

"You put in a new system, new coaches and have some injuries, and sometimes guys aren't all on the same page and don't understand the way others do," Gallery said. "We've been working all year to try and get everyone on the same page."

Shell remembers some early resistance to the philosophy as line coach in Kansas City, although the Chiefs caught on by the end of training camp and ended up leading the NFL in rushing in 1995.

He isn't about to change now.

"I still believe it's a better way to block," Shell said.

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