Oakland Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs - Key Matchups.
David Wilson – Oct 24, 2012
Coming of an overtime win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Oakland Coliseum, the Raiders will look to generate some momentum against the AFC West basement dwellers the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Raiders win, then are right back in the AFC West Title race. If they lose, then it is them who will be in the basement.
The Chiefs are a team in real trouble, and if the Raiders are going to generate anything at all this season, they need to win here.
As ever, individual matchups will play a big part in the outcome of this game.
Raiders Offense v Chiefs Defense
With the Raiders still not able to generate a running game of any kind, you can bet that Kansas City are going to come after Carson Palmer in a big way. They have the players to cause real problems for Oakland.
LT Jared Veldheer v ROLB Tamba Hali – Tamba Hali is one of the best outside edge rushers in the NFL. Veldheer has given up blind side sacks that led to game changing fumbles two weeks in a row, and Oakland cannot afford for him to have a similar performance against the Chiefs. Hali caused Veldheer problems early in his career, and has 4.0 sack on the season so far. Although Veldheer didn’t give up a sack to him in two games in 2011, he gave up holding penalties against Hali in both. With Willie Smith a problem on the other side, the Raiders are going to be in deep trouble if they can’t hold up on the left side. This is the key matchup on the Raider offense.
RT Willie Smith v LOLB Justin Houston – This might just be the biggest mismatch of the day. Right now Justin Houston is edging Tamba Hali as the best pass rusher on the Chiefs team, with 6.0 sacks, and Willie Smith has just been a turnstile in pass protection. There is no way that Smith holds up one on one with Houston, and Oakland simply has to provide him with some help here. Whether it is Brandon Myers or Marcel Reece staying into block, Oakland has to scheme for Houston and make it work. Re-activating a 65 year old Art Shell from the retired list might actually be a better option than Smith at this point in the season…
Chiefs Offense v Raiders Defense
Although the Chiefs offense has been mostly poor, they have an excellent offensive line and one of the league’s top running backs in Jamaal Charles. Oakland’s rush defense has been mostly solid so far this year, with 3.8 yards per carry being the lowest for more than a decade
RB Jamaal Charles v LB Philip Wheeler – Make no doubt, getting the running game going with Jamaal Charles is the first priority for the Chiefs, as they don’t want the game hanging on Brady Quinn’s arm. With an excellent front five, the Chiefs will hope to impose their will in this phase of the game and control the clock. The only way they can pass the ball effectively is off a successful running game, and Charles is averaging over five yards per carry. Wheeler is the Raiders best defensive player right now, and their leading tackler. Maintaining gap discipline is vital, as one slip can mean Charles going the distance, and Wheeler is the man to lead the charge. You will see less nickel sets in this game, with more snaps for Rolando McClain, but Wheeler is still the key player.
WR Dwayne Bowe v CB Michael Huff – Bowe is the only real true receiving threat on the Chiefs offense, and has more than twice the receptions and yardage than the next placed player on the team. He will go up on the strong side against Raiders safety come cornerback Michael Huff. Huff has made massive strides over the last two weeks as a corner, where injuries have forced his move from safety. Huff (6’ 1” – 205lbs) has the physicality and size to match up well against Bowe, which not many corners do. Bowe will be Quinn’s go to guy in the red zone, but if Huff can play the way he has recently, I am convinced he can come out on top. If Huff can take Bowe away, it leaves Jason Tarver and the Raiders defense free to stack the box against Charles and the running game.
This is a must win game for both teams, and the loser will be staring a top five draft pick squarely in the face, and virtually no chance of a playoff spot.
If Oakland can pull out a division here, even an ugly one, it might just kick start their season.
My guess is a low scoring game, and turnovers will be key.
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