The Oakland Raiders (4-9) get set to host the Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) at the O.co Coliseum Sunday in another seemingly meaningless December game. The Chiefs are riding into this game bent on squashing their hated rivals on their way to the playoffs. The Chiefs lead the all-time head to head with a 56-51-2 record against the silver and black.
The Raiders have fought hard in all but two games and have played with passion for their coach. Head coach Dennis Allen’s future remains in limbo after a difficult loss to the New York Jets and a win against the hated division rivals will go a long way in helping the Raiders keeping much needed continuity in leadership.
Going into this game, the Chiefs have averaged 37 points over their last three. Consequently, the Raiders defense–amid a meltdown–have allowed just more than 30 points on average in their past three. For a defense that started the season playing incredibly well amid an overhaul, Jason Tarver’s bunch seem to have lost all the steam. The limitations of the defensive line have finally caught up with the Raiders. The total lack of pass rush has allowed opposing quarterbacks to pick the secondary apart. The struggles on defense aren’t from a lack of trying, but rather from the lack of pass rushing talent to reach the quarterback.
The Chiefs snapped a three game losing streak in their defeat of the reeling Washington Redskins 45-10. With the Denver Bronco’s loss on Thursday night, the Chiefs still have a chance at winning the AFC West. The Chiefs are also expecting to get star linebacker Justin Houston back this weekend an are rounding into good health for their playoff run.
The Raiders are on the other hand undermanned to say the least. The defense has been hit with injuries and the lack of depth has left the defense tired. Watching defensive end Lamarr Houston, you can’t help but notice the lack of freshness in his burst off the line.
The Chiefs receivers are rounding into shape are finally opening up head coach Andy Reid‘s playbook. Quarterback Alex Smith has taken to the offense well and poses a huge problem for the Raider secondary. Jamaal Charles has been a weapon all season and remains one of the premier backs in the NFL. The Chiefs offense will test the will of the Raider defense, but the Chiefs defense has something to prove in their slide down the defensive charts.
The return of Houston should be a boost for a defense that has played mediocre of late. Having their two outside rushers for this game should help the Chiefs terrorize Matt McGloin.
Lost in the Raiders’ recent losing streak has been the improved play of the offense. The Raider receivers are beginning to make an impact. Wide outs Rod Streater and Andre Holmes have helped McGloin in the passing game along the emergence of rookie tight end Mychal Rivera. Denarius Moore could be able to play in this game allowing all the offensive talent to be on the field at once. Marcel Reece has had several good games recently and it appears the offense is finally ready to break out. The Health of the offensive line has a lot to do with the improved play on offense. The return of tackle Jared Veldheer has given the line a boost in morale besides the talent upgrade and it shows in the time McGloin has had in the pocket.
This game shouldn’t be close on paper, but history tells us this game should be another physical battle between the two long time rivals. The Raiders matchup fairly well against the Chiefs and no matter what most pundits think, the Raiders have a chance to win this game at home.