The Oakland Raiders will go on the road to play the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday in an AFC West showdown. Both teams are desperate for wins to remain in the division race. The Raiders are looking to win consecutive games for the first time this season and to pick up their first road victory.
Offensively, Oakland wants to be a team that lines up and runs the football. However, this season the Raiders are ranked 31st in rushing offense. Running back Darren McFadden has yet to find his rhythm in the offense under new coordinator Greg Knapp. In their six games this season, Oakland has only rushed for over 100 yards in two games. Despite the lack of success, the running game remains the priority on offense and they will commit to establishing it. McFaddden is their best offensive weapon and needs to touch the ball as much as possible.
The poor execution in the running game has had little effect on the passing game. Quarterback Carson Palmer is having a solid year and the Raiders rank 9th in passing offense in the NFL at 273.2 yards per game. Because the Raiders have trailed in every game this season, the passing game has been relied on to spark the offense. The team has had nice success when they run the no-huddle offense. Look for the Raiders to use it against the Chiefs if they are stagnant or need to manage the clock. The only thing keeping the passing game from being elite is the offensive line. The unit has been inconsistent, allowing Palmer to have serious pressure and some big hits. They need to elevate their play against a Chiefs pass rush that features four first rounds draft picks.
The Oakland defense has played very well the last two weeks after bad performances before the bye. They will face running back Jamaal Charles and a Chiefs offense that ranks third in the NFL in rushing. The front four must keep their gap assignments and take on blocks, so the linebackers Philip Wheeler, Rolando McClain, and Miles Burris are free to chase down the ball carriers. The Raiders have played well against the run this season with the exception of the Miami Dolphins game. With the Chiefs starting Brady Quinn at quarterback, the Raiders game plan will force him to make throws to beat them. They will stack the box in hopes of slowing down Charles, while forcing Quinn to win the game.
This rivalry is as heated as any in the NFL. Earlier this week, Chiefs defensive end Tamba Hali said the Raiders defense was dirty and takes cheap shots. The statements have added fuel to an already traditional rivalry. Despite both teams having losing records, this game has huge implications for each to keep their season alive. The Raiders have a tendency to hurt themselves with penalties, mistakes, and turnovers. If they limit the miscues, the Raiders should go into Kansas City and get the win.
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