“They laughed at Louis Armstrong when he said he was gonna go to the moon. Now he’s up there, laughing at them.” –Chazz Michael Michaels.
That’s why underdogs play the game. The national media may think the Oakland Raiders (4-9) have no hope against the 10-3 Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15, but the Silver and Black couldn’t care less. Oakland has an opportunity to derail Kansas City’s hopes for a first-round bye, in addition to serve embarrassment to a nemesis. The Raiders have a noticeable disadvantage on paper, but that’s nothing a little creativity on the sidelines can’t fix:
Load the box often.
The Raiders must take chances, which the Chiefs won’t do. Kansas City is 31st in the NFL in yards per pass attempt (6.2) despite the possession of explosive weapons like Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster. A 2008 shoulder injury may have permanently robbed Alex Smith of his touch on deep throws, which hasn’t stopped him from developing into an elite rhythm passer but plays to Oakland’s favor. By stacking the line of scrimmage with eight or nine personnel, Jamaal Charles should strain to reach lanes or open space, and the Raiders may be able to exploit the absence of left tackle Branden Albert. However, starting corners Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter need to be smart on the island.
Keep conversions manageable.
The Chiefs defense is likely salivating at the thought of facing an offense with a patchwork line, few downfield threats and an undrafted rookie quarterback. For Matt McGloin and the Raiders to have any chance, the team must avoid long downs and ram the rock minus a hurt Darren McFadden. Kansas City thrives on third-and-long, which is evidenced by their gaudy sack totals (43), takeaways (28) and opponent third-down conversion percentage (30.6). By keeping the distance between the yellow line short, the Raiders will limit opportunities for stars like Eric Berry, Tamba Hali and Sean Smith to capitalize on mistakes.
Harass the visitors.
It’s a longstanding AFC West rivalry match, so treat it like one. The Raiders laid an egg at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 6, so the players will be fired up and hopefully the fans. The game is reportedly a sellout and Raider Nation needs to let the Chiefs hear it! Curse, laugh, throw trash but don’t bring weapons or the kids. O.co Coliseum has to quake like a fault line to instill doubt inside the weary visitors.