Hue Jackson vs. Romeo Crennel
Regardless of who the Raiders quarterback is Hue Jackson is in a difficult spot. This game will feature the Raiders passing game at its lowest point of the season. Expect Crennel’s defense to key in on the run and attempt to apply pressure on passing downs. Look for Kansas City’s cornerbacks to play bump and run in attempt to throw Oakland’s passing game off its timing. Crennel, who won three Super Bowls as defensive coordinator in New England, will try to force Hue Jackson to use the passing game.
Darren McFadden/Michael Bush vs. Kansas City Linebackers
The pressure is on DMC and Bush this week to carry the load. DMC and Bush will also be the quarterback safety valve in the passing game. Look for more plays that have Bush and DMC in the backfield together and don’t be surprised if Bush gets more touches overall. The Chiefs run a 3-4 defense and are anchored by inconsistent linebackers Jevon Belcher and Derrick Johnson. Tambi Hali has four out of the five Chief sacks this season. With the Chiefs eyeing the run and recalling how the Raiders have run over them last season, they are sure to be highly motivated. This is a match-up the Raiders running backs need to consistently win.
Raiders Quarterbacks vs. Chief’s Secondary
To succeed offensively, the Raiders quarterback does not need to throw for 300 yards. The Raiders quarterback needs to distribute the ball and not make mistakes. More than any other game this season, the Raiders quarterback needs to be clutch. Kansas City lost Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry early in the season to injury, but they still have cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr, who have three interceptions combined. Flowers and Carr play aggressive, but do have a have a tendency to get beat deep. If the Raiders offense is to be effective, look for the Raiders quarterback to take advantage of any soft coverage given to wide receivers and any coverage mistakes by the Chief safeties.
Raiders’ offensive line vs. Chiefs front 7
After having their worst game in Houston, the Raiders offensive line regained their form last week against the Browns. This week, the pressure will be on them to deliver in the running game. The Raiders offensive line faces a defensive front that is in the bottom third in the league in rushing yards allowed. The Chiefs are 31st in the NFL in sacks with only five and Hali has four of them. The Chiefs will surely test the communication between the Raiders offensive line and the Raiders quarterback. Look for the offensive line to provide running lanes for the running backs against eight-man fronts and run blitzes.
Raiders Tight Ends vs. Chiefs Defense
The Raiders tight end’s need to make critical blocks against the Chiefs outside linebackers that seal the edge for the running game. The Chiefs run a 3-4, and the Raiders running game has had mixed results when facing 3-4 teams. The Raiders had a season high 234 rushing yards vs. the Jets and a season low 94 against the Texans. Not only will the Raiders tight ends be counted on in the run game, but also must play a vital part in the passing game. When the Raiders do pass they will rely on play action and short, safe throws. With Berry injured the Raider tight ends will work the Chiefs safeties. Outside of the fake field goal touchdown last week Kevin Boss has been a non-factor for the past two games. This is the time for Boss to make his presence felt in the passing game.
Matt Cassel vs. Chuck Bresnahan
The last two games the Raiders have held the opposing teams to an average of 68 rushing yards and the blitzes are coming from everywhere. Bresnahan has been able to get his defense to play with the right mixture of disciple while remaining aggressive. With Jamaal Charles’ injury, the Chiefs offense was forced to adapt. In both of the Chiefs victories, Cassel passed for over 240 yards, in all three of losses, Cassel did not hit 200. For Cassel and the Chiefs to have success, Cassel needs to expose the Raiders when they play undisciplined. The Raiders aggressive defense may have problems covering the running back in the flat and tight ends when the Chiefs use play action. Look for Cassel to attempt a good handful of draws, screens and play action passes.
Thomas Jones/Jackie Battle vs. Raiders Defensive Line
With youth and size on his side, expect Jackie Battle to shoulder the running load and Thomas Jones to get a few carries as well. Against the Colts, Battle had a breakout game running for 119 yards on 19 carries, but the Colts line isn’t built like the one in Oakland. The Raiders defensive line is the unquestionable strength of the team. Since an undisciplined day vs. New England, the defensive line has been dominant. Matt Shaughnessy is officially out for the rest of the year. Expect Desmond Bryant, Jarvis Moss and Trevor Scott to step up. Look for the Raiders defensive line to command the line of scrimmage once again. The Raiders should continue to prevent the Chiefs from getting their first rushing touchdown of the season.
Dwayne Bowe vs. DeMarcus Van Dyke
Dwayne Bowe is by far the Chiefs most explosive and most consistent offensive weapon. Out of the Chiefs five games, he has been the game’s leading receiver in four of them. Bowe has accounted for half of Kansas City’s touchdowns and nearly half of the receiving yards. The Chiefs do not have a rushing touchdown because they rely on Bowe in the red zone. With Chris Johnson still not healthy and Stanford Routt being largely avoided, look for Cassel to take advantage when Bowe is matched up against Van Dyke. Bowe to be against Van Dyke in the red zone. It’s the rookie’s first true test.
Oakland’s Special teams vs. Steve Hoffman
Oakland’s special teams is probably one of the league’s best. In the past two games the Raiders have had a kickoff return for touchdown, a fake punt run for 35 yards and a fake field goal for a touchdown. The Raiders will miss Janikowski’s presence,but Steve Hoffman, the Chiefs special teams coach, has had to get his unit ready for anything.
Prediction: With this game being a transition game for Raiders because of the quarterback situation. Expect an old-fashioned AFC West intense, hardnosed, and close game. Raiders 17, Chiefs 13