Reading KC's Fortune - Week 2

Continuing our look into the Chiefs' future, we turn our attention to Week 2 and the home opener against the Oakland Raiders.

Overview

After opening their season on the road, the Chiefs will return to Arrowhead in Week 2 and – for the second straight year – face the Oakland Raiders.

After beating the Silver & Black nine straight times from 2003-2007, Kansas City has now split the series with Oakland over the last two seasons. Their road winning streak over the Raiders remains intact, as the Chiefs haven't lost a game in the Black Hole since 2002.

Unfortunately, the last two times the Raiders have come to Arrowhead, they've walked away the winner.


Why The Chiefs Could Lose

The Chiefs lost to the Raiders under these exact same circumstances a year ago, so it's not exactly hard to imagine.

Kansas City's run defense was flat-out embarrassed by Justin Fargas (43 yards before leaving with an injury), Michael Bush (90 yards), and Darren McFadden (164 yards). Add in three yards from JaMarcus Russell and the Chiefs allowed 300 yards on the ground at 6.4 yards per carry.

If the run defense turns in a performance that in any way resembles last year's effort, the Raiders could easily wind up with a three-game winning streak in Kansas City.


Why The Chiefs Will Win

The Chiefs were hamstrung by their defense in last year's game, but were also at a serious disadvantage on offense. Tyler Thigpen, who went into the season as the third quarterback on the depth chart, played the majority of the game after Damon Huard left with a reported head injury. You might also recall this game marked the bizarre Marques Hagans quarterback experiment.


Will Russell lose any weight before Week 2?
Paul Sakuma - AP

Ultimately, the Chiefs only gained 190 yards of offense on the day, which surely contributed to a gassed defense getting run over late in the game. But with an offensive coach like Todd Haley on board, it seems hard to imagine that kind of offensive ineptitude rearing its head again.

Not only might a functioning offense manage to score some points, it'll allow the defense a chance to stop and catch their breath. When the two teams met again later that year, the Chiefs amassed just over 300 yards of offense. Not coincidentally, while the defense didn't exactly shut down the run, they did manage to hold Fargas to 82 yards and actually stuffed McFadden to the tune of 13 yards on seven carries.

In addition to Haley, the Chiefs' changes on defense may also play a big role in this game. Not the new defensive system itself, but the people calling the plays.

How many times over the last few seasons have we previewed games against teams with a strong running game and an iffy quarterback? How many times did it seem like the Chiefs would have won if they had just loaded up against the run, forcing the opposing quarterback to beat them?

There are several examples. But how many times did the Chiefs actually make those adjustments on defense? A few? One or two? From an outsider's perspective, it appeared they were usually content to keep playing the same style of defense, without any obvious changes based on their opponent.

A more flexible defense might actually start adapting to the situations in front of them. Perhaps the Chiefs will line up against a quarterback like Russell – who has only passed for over 250 yards once in his career – with a mindset of "they'll have to beat us through the air to win."

Stopping Oakland's ground game is easier said than done, of course, but it would give the Chiefs a huge advantage to make the Raiders one-dimensional, especially when the opposing quarterback isn't exactly the world's most accurate passer.

If the Chiefs can move the ball and play enough run defense to force Russell into winning the game with his arm, the Chiefs will find themselves in a favorable situation.


Most Likely Result: almost a full year since their last victory at Arrowhead, the Chiefs (1-1) pull out the win.

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