Five To Watch: Chiefs vs Raiders

To me, this game is a real microcosm of the two organizations. New Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin comes from championship stock. His father, Monte Kiffin, is one of the most respected coaches in the game today.

Clearly he learned a few things from his old man, who currently serves as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator. But can he overcome a meddling owner whom the game passed by two decades ago?

The Raiders will never be great again until they can overcome Al Davis. But even more so, the problem with the Raiders is that they have too much carryover with the losing streak. They started losing four seasons ago and as they keep losing it becomes harder to change the direction of a football team. Kiffin might be able to change that, but not until he starts winning AFC West games.

On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards has been able to get his team to rebound from carryover twice this season.

The Chiefs lost their first pair of road games to start the season, but they won two in a row before being physically beaten by Jacksonville. After that loss he was able to get the team to regroup and beat the Bengals.

Edwards, who will be returning to the bay area and playing in the stadium where he rooted for his childhood Raiders, has had a knack for getting this Chiefs team up for AFC West games.

It's probably something he learned from Marty Schottenheimer, who was a master at winning division games. Edwards is 5-1 at Oakland as a head coach and with the Chiefs he's 5-2 in the division.

And that's an important note in the development of this football team. With the bye week approaching this game means everything to the Chiefs. A win and they'll remain in first place until they resume play two weeks from Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

For the Raiders, it's about trying to stop the carryover. I think the trend will continue however, and the streak will live on another week.

Five to Watch:

1. RB Larry Johnson - On the Boomer Grigsby Show Wednesday night, he answered every question, fueling even more criticism. I know I've bashed him for not blocking, throwing the ball to the ground and showing his frustration, but he was about as loose as I've seen him all season in the locker room this week. There was almost a calm about him, and to me that means he's about to break out this weekend. People have been saying you should never count out Priest Holmes, but the same goes for Johnson when it appears the chip is firmly planted on his shoulder.

2. LB Derrick Johnson - If ever there was a game where Derrick Johnson could dominate, it's this weekend's. Johnson was huge against the Chargers two weeks ago and was the primary reason LaDainian Tomlinson was shut down in the second half. Against Oakland, with LaMont Jordan still hobbled, the rushing duties fall to Justin Fargas. He played well against the Miami Dolphins but was bottled up against the Chargers last week. Oakland's offense isn't good, so DJ should be able to play in the backfield all game long.

3. WR Jeff Webb - With Eddie Kennison unlikely to return until the Packers or Broncos game in November, the emergence of Jeff Webb in the Chiefs offense is something that needs to continue. Webb was downright brilliant against the Bengals. He fumbled the ball and cost his team a field goal, but he showed great hands, the ones we saw in OTAs and training camp. If he can establish himself as a consistent threat in this offense, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and tight end Tony Gonzalez will continue to get single coverage. Against a weak Oakland secondary, Webb and company could be in for a yardage bonanza.

4. QB Damon Huard - He seems to be on my list every week, but last week's victory over the Bengals proved to me he can beat a team he should beat. Cincy's defense was terrible going into the game, and Huard exploited their weaknesses. Against the Raiders, the same should apply. Still, one has to praise the veteran quarterback who continues to fight for his chance to remain the starter. At the moment, he reminds me a lot of Trent Dilfer. He proved last week he still has some of that 2006 magic that helped the Chiefs get to the playoffs. Though he didn't get to finish the job last season, he's getting that chance this year, and right now I would not bet against him.

5. DC Gunther Cunningham - This game represents the Super Bowl for Cunningham. He told me in our interview a couple of months ago that his tenure as the Raiders' defensive coordinator was the worst experience of his coaching career. Despite all that he helped mold some great football players – just like he's doing in Kansas City with the Chiefs. But it's Raiders week, and Cunningham was his usual self because he knows his defense took a huge step forward last week against the Bengals.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Raiders 17

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