In the Oakland Raiders 25-24 win over the Denver Broncos Sunday on a snowy night in the Mile High City, the team showed some semblance of the one many people expected when wholesale changes were made during the offseason.
"We're not going to change much," Raiders free safety Ray Buchanan said. "We're getting kind of good at one thing we don't want to change. Of course, we don't want to be vanilla because teams will pick up what we're doing. We're pretty comfortable with the gameplan we have."
The run defense did a respectable job Sunday night against Reuben Droughns, limiting him to 102 yards on 28 carries. Granted, the snowy conditions did not help but it's not as if the Raiders were running on a dry surface. Most importantly, Oakland put on a decent pass rush against quarterback Jake Plummer, who completed 14-of-23 passes for 122 yards, even though he was not sacked. The Raiders also forced three Bronco turnovers.
The latest edition of the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry is not that will catch the attention of many people. Oakland is 4-7 and Kansas City is 3-8. The Chiefs have lost four in a row but have the second highest total in the NFL of 411.5 total yards of offense per game. Holmes is listed as out with a knee injury while quarterback Trent Green is listed as questionable with a rib injury.
"He's smart, he's crafty, he's been running that offense for a long time," Buchanan said. "You can't take anything away from what they've been doing on the offensive side of the ball. You look at his offense and he has his go-to guys. That running game they have is pretty efficient. We've got to have the same gameplan we had against Denver."
Anthony Blaylock, meanwhile will take the place of Holmes in the starting lineup. Holmes has 196 carries for 892 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also has 18 catches for 187 yards. Blaylock has tallied 92 carries for 451 yards and seven touchdowns. Blaylock has also recorded 20 catches for 187 yards.
"Holmes is a great player," Buchanan said. "You can put 31 (Holmes) or 23 (Blaylock) back there and it doesn't matter. I think Priest is a better back out of the backfield."
Another area the Raiders will have to address that has been problematic, notably in two losses to San Diego, is covering tight ends. Chargers tight end Antonio Gates shredded Oakland for 13 catches and 164 yards and three touchdowns in the two meetings.
Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez is considered the cream of the crop of NFL tight ends and has done nothing this season to dispel that notion. Gonzalez has 64 grabs for 838 yards and five touchdowns.
"Everybody is trying to slow down the tight ends now but the refs aren't letting us jam them," Buchanan said. "Of course, we're going to get the flags but we're going to keep doing what we have to do. Once you start getting into Gonzalez you start forgetting about other guys."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org