The Kansas City Chiefs were already facing a tall task in trying to beat the 4-2 Oakland Raiders on the road Sunday. Now that the Raiders have added QB Carson Palmer and activated QB Terrell Pryor, the Chiefs’ lot just got tougher.
Sure, you could look at this weekend’s game from a lot of different ways. You could say that it is actually the Raiders who are at a disadvantage. After all, they’ve lost their starting QB and the acquisition of Palmer indicates that they have little to no faith in backup Kyle Boller. Pryor hadn’t even practiced with the team until this week so it is likely he could get out and start slinging the ball around. As for Palmer, he hasn’t played since last season. If he does start on Sunday, he is sure to be extremely rusty. No amount of practice drills can prepare a player for the speed of the NFL game, nor the pain of a real NFL hit. Palmer could make a boatload of mistakes and he could get rattled should the Chiefs get to him early.
Yes, you could say this is a trap game for the Raiders but while I’d prefer all I just wrote to be true, I think the Chiefs have a lot to worry about come this Sunday.
The Oakland Raiders proved last season that they could line up against the Chiefs and out muscle them. Even at full strength, the Chiefs were unable to beat the Raiders in 2010. In the season finale, Oakland ran the ball down KC’s throat and completely shut down the offense, despite the presence of Jamaal Charles.
Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, Carson Palmer or even Terrell Pryor could probably line up under center and manage the Oakland offense well enough to compete with the Chiefs. This is a team that can rely heavily on its running game and plays a physical, smash-mouth style of defense that seems to give the Chiefs fits.
The Raiders can beat the Chiefs a lot of ways. I watched their game against the Browns last week and although it was ugly, there was never any doubt in my mind that the Raiders would win. Their defense stacked the box to stop the run and swarmed QB Colt McCoy all day long. This, against a Browns offensive line that features quality players in LT Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack.
Chances are the Raiders are going to employ the same strategy against the Chiefs. They’ll play man coverage on the KC receivers and force Matt Cassel to beat them. If Cassel can’t do it then it could be a long day for KC. I just can’t see any circumstances where they Raiders allow Jackie Battle and Thomas Jones to get going like the Colts did.
On defense, however, is where I am really concerned. The Chiefs have been absolutely horrid at generating pressure this season. Without a pass rush, any Oakland QB should be able to find some success. If that happens, the Chiefs are in trouble. Their corners have not been playing well and their safety play is laughably bad, particularly against the pass. The Raiders may not have the most talented receivers in the NFL but those guys are fast and they’ll have no problem blowing by the likes of Jon McGraw or Kendrick Lewis should KC get their safeties too close to the line.
No, the Chiefs will need to keep their safeties back to protect against Oakland’s speed at receiver. That will mean the KC corners will have to play well. It also means that the front seven will have to stuff the run against the Raiders much like they did vs. the Vikings.
In Oakland’s last game, they scored seven points off a kick return and another seven on a fake FG. That means the Chiefs will have to be very, very careful in the special teams department.
The Carson Palmer trade is a perfect example of how this Raiders team plays on the field. They are aggressive to the point of foolishness. They’ll run and pound the ball like crazy and then heave it down the field for a home run. They’ll run some tricky screens that get the ball in the hands of their receivers. One missed tackle against some of these guys and they’re gone.
Don’t be shocked to see Terrell Pryor come out for a few snaps. His speed and athleticism make a very dangerous threat. Don’t put it past Jackson to throw together two or three plays just for Pryor.
Don’t be surprised if Carson Palmer attempts more passes of 20+ yards than he does intermediate routes.
Don’t be surprised.
I’m not trying to make the Raiders seem unbeatable here but it would be foolish to consider Sunday an easy win for the Chiefs because of Oakland’s QB situation.
Like it or not, the Raiders are dangerous and if the Chiefs want to leave California with a victory, they are going to have to play sharp, focused football from the first whistle to the last. They won’t recover from another slow start in the Black Hole.