Key matchups vs. Chiefs

DeAngelo Hall didn't have a very good night in the Raiders' season-opening loss to Denver last week. His matchup this week against Kansas City wide receiver Dwayne Bowe could go a long way in determining how well the Raiders do in their annual visit to Arrowhead Stadium. Find out why and about other key matchups in Michael Wagaman's weekly opponent breakdown.

Raiders LT Kwame Harris or Mario Henderson vs. Kansas City DE Tamba Hali: Harris didn't practice this week because of a knee injury and is very doubtful to play. Even if he does somehow manage to start, he won't be close to 100 percent and that's a bad omen against Hali, who collected 15 ½ sacks his first two years in the league. More likely is that Henderson will be making his first NFL start at one of the toughest road stadiums to play. The crowd at Arrowhead always made it tough for a veteran player like Barry Sims so you can imagine the type of stress awaiting Henderson, who hasn't done much to impress the coaching staff during his year-plus with the team. The Raiders weren't going to throw the ball a lot anyway but if Henderson is forced to start they'll probably cut back their passing game even more.

Raiders CB DeAngelo Hall vs. Kansas City WR Dwayne Bowe: Hall had a rough go in his Oakland debut, getting twisted and turned around by Denver rookie Eddie Royal. That was a big reason the Broncos easily put up nearly 300 yards in the air, something the Raiders can't afford to let continue if they have any hopes of having a respectable season. Bowe isn't as well-rounded as Royal and dropped several key passes late in Kansas City's 17-10 loss to New England in Week 1. Herm Edwards might be tempted to open up the Chiefs' offense with Huard after coddling Brodie Coyle throughout the preseason. More likely, Kansas City will try to be balanced but if Hall can limit Bowe's production it could go a long way toward making the Chiefs one-dimensional.

Raiders DTS Tommy Kelly and Gerard Warren vs. Kansas City RB Larry Johnson: With Brock Huard at QB the Chiefs will likely want to pound the ball on the ground and Johnson is their main weapon. Oakland allowed 142 yards to Denver and needs a much better effort if it wants to avoid a repeat performance. Kelly didn't play all that bad against the Broncos but it's clear he's still shaking the rust after having knee surgery last year. Johnson seems like he's ready to put his injury problems in the past and the Raiders know more than anyone how dangerous he can be when healthy.

Raiders LB Thomas Howard and SS Gibril Wilson vs. Kansas City TE Tony Gonzalez: Gonzalez is the aging future Hall-of-Famer who is closing in on retirement but is still a viable threat on the field. He caught six passes for 55 yards in the opener and will probably get more looks from Huard, who will be searching for a safety net if the Raiders can mount any type of pass rush. Gonzalez has caught more touchdowns (7) against Oakland than any other team so it's obvious he still gets up for the division rivalry. Howard is one of the few linebackers in the AFC capable of stopping Gonzalez though the Raiders will either double-team him with Wilson or split responsibility between the two. Howard's speed gives him the edge but he has to get the edge with the first bump. Wilson struggled against Denver with the deep throws and he'll have his hands full with Gonzalez, who is a threat underneath and can still stretch the field.

Raiders WR Javon Walker and WR Ashley Lelie vs. Kansas City DB Patrick Surtain and DB Brandon Flowers: Walker sat out the season-opener against Denver and missed more practice time this week, though the indications late in the week were that he is likely to play against the Chiefs. That's a good sign because the Raiders need to get as many healthy experienced players on the field as possible to help in the maturation of QB JaMarcus Russell. Lelie filled in decently against the Broncos despite having less than a week to get acclimated to Oakland's offense. His touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was easily the team's best offensive play and proved he still may have something left in the tank. Surtain was once a dominant player in Miami who is still a fairly effective corner but he has his weaknesses. Flowers was Kansas City's second-round draft pick who is more physical than his size would seem. Oakland wants to run the ball but when they have to throw or if they fall behind, the Raiders need the two wideouts to produce.


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