The Oakland Raiders look to build on their most impressive showing of the season, but face an even greater challenge when they head to Kansas City to take on the undefeated Chiefs.
The Raiders have an uphill battle ahead of them as Kansas City boasts one of the best defenses in the NFL. They lead the league in points allowed, giving up only 11.6 points per game this season and are particularly stingy against the pass, allowing less than 200 yards through the air, good for fourth in the NFL.
The Chiefs have everything you need in a defense. They lead the NFL in sacks, led by Justin Houston’s 8.5. Their 15 takeaways are good for second in the league. They have a stout defensive line with Tyson Jackson and Dontari Poe and a top notch secondary led by shutdown corner Brandon Flowers and do-everything safety Eric Berry.
It would be a tall task to ask Terrelle Pryor to drive down the field on this defense. The Chiefs run defense is average, but with both Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings questionable, they aren’t in the position to take advantage of that. With Flowers likely to be all over Denarius Moore, the Raiders offense will be hard pressed to generate points without some help from their defense or special teams.
And that is where the Raiders will have to win this game. Despite some impressive weapons on offense, the Chiefs are a very average offensive team. Coach Andy Reid has employed a very conservative strategy that relies on their stout defense and running game.
Running back Jamaal Charles is one of the most dangerous players in the league. He is equally dangerous running or catching the ball and the Raiders must find some way to contain him if they expect to come out with a victory. When Alex Smith does drop back to pass, Dwayne Bowe is one of the most physically imposing receivers in the league, and Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster are explosive underneath receivers capable of turning a screen or slant into an 80 yard touchdown.
Tracy Porter will have to be on his game to control whoever is in the slot as that is where the Chiefs do a lot of damage. How the Raiders defend Charles out of the backfield will also be key as Nick Roach and Sio Moore will be hard pressed to keep up with the speedster Charles.
The Raiders haven’t lost in Kansas City since 2006. This game presents the Chiefs best chance to end that streak. A healthy Raiders team would have difficulty putting up points, with their running backs not at 100 percent, it will be borderline impossible. The only chance is for the defense or special teams to shorten the field for the offense. Even with that, it probably won’t be enough as the Chiefs take a convincing win at home.