The Kansas City Chiefs will look win their third straight game this Sunday by going on the road to take on the Oakland Raiders.
A win would help ease the pain of KC’s 0-3 start to the season and would pull Todd Haley’s squad back to .500. To do so, however, the Chiefs will have to defeat an Oakland ream that swept them in 2010.
Here are five Chiefs players to watch that could have a major impact on the game’s outcome.
1. Matt Cassel
Matt Cassel had perhaps his best game as a Chief in the team’s last game against the Colts. He’ll have to continue his high level of play against a physical Oakland defense that will likely crowd the line looking to stuff the run and create pressure. If Cassel can take care of the favorable match ups, he is likely to get on the outside the Chiefs will have a chance.
But if he crumbles, it could be a long day in the Black Hole.
2. Dwayne Bowe
Bowe is playing out of his mind this year but the Raiders are sure to try to take him out of this game. The good news is that the Raiders secondary is not as strong as it once was. Bowe has got to get open and get open quickly to give Matt Cassel a place to go with the football in the face of a fierce Oakland pass rush. The Chiefs handled the Colts and Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis only because they were able to open up the pass with the run. Jackie Battle and Thomas Jones are unlikely to have as much success against the Raiders’ front seven. That means the KC receivers must win their match ups.
And the KC receiving game begins and ends with Dwayne Bowe.
3. Derrick Johnson
DJ is the best weapon the KC defense has against the run. With Jason Campbell out for the year with a broken collarbone, it will likely be Kyle Boller who gets the start for the Raiders. As such, Oakland is sure to lean heavily on RB Derrick McFadden to create some offense. McFadden is absolutely deadly should he get around the edge, and Johnson is the only KC defender that has a prayer of heading him off if he does. That means DJ needs to be on top of his game and if he gets his hands on McFadden he has to bring him down.
If he doesn’t McFadden could have a monster day.
4. Brandon Flowers
Flowers got absolutely torched last week and has been having a terrible season. The Raiders receivers may not be spectacular, but they are lightening fast and even Kyle Boller will hit a wide open receiver streaking down the sideline more often than not.
Flowers will not only be key in coverage but also in the run defense. With Eric Berry on the shelf, Flowers may well be KC’s best open field tackler. If Darren McFadden breaks lose on his side of the field, Flowers has to make the tackle.
5. Ryan Succop
With Campbell out, Rome Crennel will likely use a similar game plan that he employed against the Vikings. The Chiefs will attempt to clamp down on the run with their front seven while playing it safe in the secondary, allowing underneath passes but guarding against the big play. That means this could quickly turn into a game of field goals.
For the Chiefs to keep pace with the monster-legged Sebastian Janikowski, Ryan Succop will have to step up and kick well in a hostile environment. He wasn’t needed in FG action against the Colts but his big day against the Vikings helped the Chiefs get their first win of the year.
If the Chiefs have a chance to put three points on the board Sunday, Succop has to come through because chances are, Janikowski won’t miss.
Well those are my five players to keep an eye on but there are certainly plenty of other guys who could be the key to a KC victory. Who will you be paying special attention to this Sunday?