This week the Oakland Raiders face one of their most difficult tests of the season. It has nothing to do with the skill of the opponent, the 2-11 Kansas City Chiefs, but the emotion that comes with this game.
Kansas City is still dealing with the aftermath of Jovan Belcher’s suicide and after putting on a spirited performance the day after the tragedy, the Chiefs fell flat last week in a 30-7 l0ss to the Cleveland Browns. The question really boils down to whether or not the Chiefs can use the emotion to beat one of their bitter rivals from the AFC West.
On paper, this game is a mismatch in favor of Oakland, as we saw in Week 8 when the Raiders went to Kansas City and came home with a convincing 26-16 win. However, that is the last game Oakland won and Kansas City has looked less awful in recent weeks. To make matters worse, Kansas City’s defensive strengths are Oakland’s strengths on offense and where the Chiefs excel on offense is technically where the Raiders play well on defense, but as we all know Oakland doesn’t play defense much anymore anyway.
The Chiefs’ biggest threat on offense is Jamaal Charles with his 1,220 rushing yards, 165 more yards than the Raiders have as a team. Oakland is 26th in the NFL against the run and has given up a lot of yards on the ground to a lot of good backs and some mediocre backs. This bodes well for the Kansas City offense and especially Charles, who has quietly had a good year for a really bad team. The Raiders should not worry too much about the passing game considering the Chiefs are 31st in passing offense, but then again Oakland makes any passing offense look good.
Kansas City’s biggest test on defense will be trying to stop the seventh-best passing offense in the league. Luckily for the Chiefs, they boast the ninth-ranked pass defense in the NFL. The Raiders could have success giving the ball to Darren McFadden against the 27th best rush defense in the league, but Oakland is also the third-worst rushing offense in the NFL. If Oakland wants to have any success on the ground, it will need to contain Derrick Johnson, who has 91 solo tackles and 104 stops overall.
If Oakland’s going to snap the losing streak, this is the week to do it, but it won’t be the worst thing in the world if they lose.