The Kansas City Chiefs are going to California this Sunday for the most important Chiefs, Raiders game in recent memory.
Anyone who thinks the Raiders are a pushover hasn’t been paying attention this season and the Chiefs are going to have to be on top of their game to escape Oakland with a victory.
Here are five things I think the Chiefs need to do if they want to beat the Raiders.
1. Stop McFadden and Bush
The Chiefs have the best rushing attack in the NFL but the Oakland Raiders aren’t far behind.
In fact, they’re right behind.
Oakland has been running well all year but after the last couple of weeks they now rank second in the league, rushing for 168.5 yards per game.
The Chiefs counter with the leagues 7th ranked run defense. The Chiefs are only giving up about 90 yards per game and have shut down the likes of Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew and Frank Gore so far this season.
Still, the Raiders will be KC’s toughest test to date. If the Chiefs can keep the Raiders run game in check, they’ll have a chance. If not, I doubt they can overcome Oakland on the road.
2. Watch Your Back
Oakland has got some speedy receivers and if the Chiefs had better respect that speed. The Raiders receivers are young and still developing but they will hurt the Chiefs if they can get behind the defense. KC can’t afford to give up the big pass play on the road to a team like Oakland who can run the ball well.
The Chiefs defense is a bend but don’t break unit so they should be able to take care of this one but there is one way it could all go wrong and that is if they don’t….
3. Tackle Stupid
Oakland’s Heyward-Bey got a huge touchdown last week against the Seahawks because the DB failed to tackle him. It does no good to keep the play in front of you if you are going to blow the tackle. KC’s corners have to keep focus. If they go for the pick they had better get it because these receivers have the speed to be gone before the safeties can come to help.
The same goes for McFadden. Arm tackles aren’t going to work with this guy so the Chiefs had better man up and stand him up for he’ll make them pay.
4. If The Run Game Is Working, Run Until They Stop It
The Chiefs were driving me nuts against the Bills. They would use Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles to march down the field into the Buffalo redzone and then they’d start passing the ball. Then they’d get to 4th down and fail to convert.
This week, the Chiefs had better not pass up any points and they had better not pass if the run game is working. The Raiders have the 4th ranked pass defense in the NFL. The Chiefs have the 32nd ranked passing offense in the NFL. This is not a good matchup for the Chiefs.
The Raiders have the 26th ranked run defense so that is what the Chiefs should attack. Now the Raiders have been playing the run better the last couple of weeks so the Chiefs should be careful but it would be foolish to come out throwing the ball over the field with Matt Cassel.
5. Avoid Ridiculous Turnovers
Last week the Raiders got some of the most amazing bounces I’ve ever seen. While I can’t credit them for being in the right place at the right time on a couple of freak interceptions and receptions, I can credit them for taking those turnovers and scoring points. Oakland is not a team you want to turn the ball over to. The Chiefs need to continue to do a good job of taking care of the football or it could be a long flight home to Kansas City.
Yes my keys are basic but this is a road game against a division opponent with pretty big playoff implications for the Chiefs. If KC can win, they will be in very good shape in the AFC West. If they lose, the AFC West will be back up for grabs.
What are your keys to beating the Raiders?