Game Preview: Raiders vs. Chiefs

At 0-10, coming into a Thursday night matchup against a red-hot division opponent (the Chefs have won 7 of their last 8 games), there’s no mystery as to what the Raiders need to do, if they stand a chance at winning this one:  find the running game, and contain Jamaal Charles. We all remember what Charles did in Oakland last year, romping for 5 TDs in a 56-31 blowout, mostly on the strength of a single screen play that Kansas City ran repeatedly, defying the Raiders’ defense to stop them.

The rainy weather will work to the Raiders’ advantage, in at least keeping the point count down, but KC’s D is tight. Two interesting stats regarding the Chefs:

  1. While they are ranked 25th in yards allowed, Kansas City’s defense has not given up a rushing TD since Week 16 of last season. Only a handful of teams have had a longer streak.
  2. Alex Smith has not had a single TD pass to a wide receiver this season.

Look for one of these two records to break tonight. Chances are it will be the latter, but as always, if Oakland can put the two-yards-up-the-middle-and-a-cloud-of-derp rushing attack of McFadden and Jones-Drew on pause for a few drives, and see what Latavius Murray has to offer, it might be that first statistic that falls. Murray’s two consecutive late runs against the Chargers electrified the offense, however briefly, and Murray’s 23-yard gallop was, sadly, Oakland’s longest carry of the season by a running back so far.

Continuing credit has to go to Jason Tarver’s improving defense, which has shed its 3rd-down conversion problems, and has had elite division opponent quarterbacks guessing and on the run. Alex Smith has had something of a career resurgence since going to Kansas City, but is still inferior in talent to Manning and Rivers. If the Raiders’ D can get to those two, they should be able to get to Smith.

Most of the Thursday night games this season, all of which have been divisional matchups, have been blowouts. The spread on this game is 7 points, and between the weather and the Chiefs possibly looking ahead to their next game against the Broncos, I would actually put money on Oakland at least beating the spread. It’s probably too much to hope for a win, but that’s really why we keep tuning in to watch, right?

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