WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS
Not much has changed since Oakland's secondary dominated the Chiefs a few weeks ago. This will be a tough assignment for Brodie Croyle in his first game at home, although the Raiders play mostly man coverage so you'd hope he has a few more opportunities to throw the ball down the field (and Herm Edwards said he'd give Croyle that chance this weekend). Kansas City did not have Eddie Kennison healthy in the first meeting (he will play tomorrow), so we'll see how that affects Oakland's defense.
Where the Chiefs are going to run into additional problems in this second meeting is with Oakland's pass rush. Defensive end Derrick Burgess is much healthier than he was when the Chiefs traveled to Oakland, and the Raiders also have defensive tackle Gerard Warren starting now. Defensive end Chris Clemons has come on lately and leads Oakland with five sacks – he'll line up at right end in passing situations and is extremely quick off the edge. Burgess moves to left end. Right guard Rudy Niswanger has been playing more and more for the Chiefs – he'll have a tough task blocking Warren Sapp, who dominated Kansas City in Oakland.
WHEN THE RAIDERS PASS
Oakland finds themselves switching quarterbacks again, as Daunte Culpepper will start his second straight game in relief of the ineffective Josh McCown. That's actually a bit of a break for the Raiders, as McCown has been absolutely horrible this season. Culpepper threw for a season-high 344 yards last week in his return to Minnesota.
The Raiders' passing game isn't much better than it was when the Chiefs beat them in October, however. Ronald Curry is still the most reliable target (120 yards last week), Jerry Porter catches an occasional pass, and rookie tight end Zach Miller works short over the middle. The Raiders will have to make do without LaMont Jordan, their best pass-catching back.
The real problem, as usual, is Oakland's offensive line, which still isn't playing all that well. Barry Sims has already allowed 6.5 sacks this year, and now the Raiders are faced with playing a backup at right tackle, as Cornell Green was placed on injured reserve this week. Paul McQuistan will replace him, and hasn't proven to be too effective playing outside so far. Even worse, the Raiders have depth problems at center and starter Jeremy Newberry has bad knees.
One last note – we may see rookie quarterback JaMarcus Russell take the first snap of his career this weekend.
WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN
Larry Johnson busted loose for 112 yards in October against the Raiders, but the number was deceiving – a 54-yard burst padded Johnson's stats. Fortunately for the Chiefs, Oakland's run defense hasn't improved as the season has progressed. Oakland allowed over 200 yards rushing to the Vikings last week, and even gave up 122 to Ron Dayne two games ago.
Whether or not the Chiefs can exploit this weakness with rookie Kolby Smith as the starter remains to be seen. Oakland will be much stronger at defensive tackle with Warren playing this time, and KC's offense couldn't even exploit Denver's abysmal run defense two weeks ago. Gilbert Harris, elevated off Kansas City's practice squad this week, will handle the ball when Smith takes a blow on the sideline.
WHEN THE RAIDERS RUN
Justin Fargas now carries the bulk of the load for the Raiders with LaMont Jordan playing less and less (the conspiracy theory abounds that Al Davis has deactivated Jordan to avoid paying him incentive-based bonuses) these days. Unfortunately Oakland's ground game isn't quite as good as its No. 6 ranking indicates. Raiders running backs haven't combined to crack 100 yards in three of the last four games. Considering the Chiefs pretty much shut down Oakland's rushing attack out West, it's a good bet that happens tomorrow again.
Shane Lechler is still destroying the ball, proving he's the only punter in the AFC better than KC's Dustin Colquitt. Sebastian Janikowski, however, easily outclasses Dave Rayner in this matchup – Janikowski has nailed 16 of his last 17 field-goal attempts, including all five last week in Minnesota. Chris Carr has handled the kick return duties for Oakland since the first meeting with the Chiefs, but hasn't been all that successful. Tim Dwight, signed recently by the Raiders, has failed to elevate their punt-return game.
Despite their 2-8 record, the Raiders haven't given up, a common late-season theme in recent years. The fact that the Chiefs have beaten them nine times in a row will undoubtedly be rubbed in all week by rookie head coach Lane Kiffin. Kansas City, however, has lost two straight at home. Three in a row is unthinkable.
Ten in a row.
Chiefs 3, Raiders 0
Film Review: Chiefs vs Raiders II
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