Taking at face value the Oakland Raiders previous two games might lead a person to believe that the Kansas City Chiefs are going to suffer a monstrous defeat when the two teams go head to head on Sunday. However, as with all things, proper perspective is needed.
We’ll start with Oakland’s pummeling of Denver. Let me begin by saying I applaud the Raiders for putting up 59 points. That’s not easy to do against any NFL team. Or at least it shouldn’t be. Here’s where the perspective comes into play. On the surface either Denver’s defense is really bad, Oakland’s offense is really good, or both. The problem is that Oakland didn’t really face Denver’s starting defense. Oakland faced a mere shadow of it.
To give you an idea of just how depleted Denver’s defense was, I’m going to explain through Red and Gold colored glasses. Denver’s defense would be equivalent to ours if you took away outside linebacker Tamba Hali, cornerback Brandon Carr, safety Eric Berry, and OLB Mike Vrabel. Add to that Brandon Flowers playing injured and you roughly have the equivalent of the Broncos defense when they played the Raiders.
Let’s move on to the Seattle game. This game was a blowout for a different reason. On this day, a good pass rushing team met a bad offensive line. Last Sunday, Seattle’s QB Matt Hasselbeck was sacked eight times. Is it any surprise that with that kind of pressure he threw a pick as well? Unfortunately for Seattle, their run game had just as much success due to the poor offensive line play.
As fans of the Kansas City Chiefs, previous seasons have made us familiar with poor offensive line play. We understand that when an offense is stagnant, the defense is on the field a lot. We saw it most recently in our game against the Indianapolis Colts. In the fourth quarter our defense started to get gassed and so the Colts finally put some points on us late to win the game. Knowing this, let’s take a look at Oakland’s game with Seattle. What we find is that Oakland only managed to put 13 points on the 26th ranked defense until the 4th quarter when the deficiency of Seattle’s offense started to affect the play of Seattle’s defense. Then, against a tired Seahawks defense, the Raiders were able to put up 20 additional points.
Now before the Raiders fans start crying out in the comments about how I’m just making excuses, I want to give the Raiders their due. Oakland has played good football these past two weeks. In fact, I expected them to win the AFC West when I made my season predictions so it comes as no surprise to me. All I’m trying to say is that in the proper perspective, the two blowout wins that the Raiders have recently accomplished are not as impressive as they seem to be. This is the reason why Chiefs fans don’t need to worry about losing big to the Raiders like Denver or Seattle.
Unlike Denver, our defense is healthy. In fact, if anyone should be worried about injuries affecting their play it should be Oakland. As I am writing this, Oakland could be down two starting wide receivers, their star cornerback, a starting tight end, and a starting center. That certainly changes my perspective when trying to figure out who I think wins on Sunday.
I don’t think we will be worn down like Seattle was, either. Our offensive line is, statistically, one of the best in the NFL. Put that with our number one rushing offense versus Oakland’s 26th ranked rushing defense and I don’t see us struggling to move the ball like Seattle did. That means we should be able to give our defense the rest it needs to keep from getting exploited in the fourth quarter.
As you can see, given a little perspective, the Raiders may not be the powerhouse they appear to be. That is not to say they aren’t a team the Chiefs shouldn’t take seriously. The Raiders are, in a very real sense, our competition to win the AFC West. Doesn’t it make sense then that this game should be a tough one to predict? For now I’m leaning towards the Chiefs pulling off a win because the Raiders appear to be banged up. However, depending on which Raiders actually sit out the game on Sunday, my perspective could still change.