It’s Raider week, and thanks to a 5-0 start by Andy Reid’s new-look Kansas City Chiefs, The Kingdom is jacked up. While there has been talk of the Chiefs potentially, “being 9-0 by the time they face Denver,” this is still the NFL, and in the NFL it’s imperative not to look past the next game on your schedule. The 2-3 Raiders come into town having beaten Kansas City in Arrowhead in 6 straight contests, and deserve the attention of Reid and his crew. Kansas City needs to reclaim its home-field advantage in this series, and make a statement by winning their first division game. To do this, they will have to pay attention to a few players who have been stepping up for Oakland and performing at high levels. Three of these players are DE Lamarr Houston, LB Kevin Burnett and WR Rod Streater.
Though the “other” Houston doesn’t have 8.5 sacks on the year (he has 3), he has made himself a known commodity on this Raider defense. Houston, now in his 4th NFL season out of Texas, is on pace to have the best season of his career. Oakland’s week 5 victory over San Diego saw Houston excel in pass-rush and against the run. Houston has shown to be a solid, dependable player who the Chiefs (and Branden Albert in particular) need to keep in check.
Burnett is on his 4th team in 8 years, but this journeyman can play. Oakland’s starting weak-side linebacker has surpassed the 100-tackle mark in each of his last two seasons (with Miami), and totaled 95 tackles with San Diego in 2010 (to go with 2 INT and 6 sacks). Last week against San Diego, Burnett recorded 12 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Burnett does have a streakiness to him, as he tends to follow great games with mediocre ones, but it will be important for Smith and the offense to know where No. 94 is at all times this Sunday.
Streater signed with Oakland in 2012 as an undrafted free agent and in that time, he has earned the starting job opposite Denarius Moore, and blossomed into a solid young player. On pace for 51 receptions, 729 yards and 3 TDs, Streater is no Calvin Johnson, but he’s extremely consistent and can certainly help Oakland move the chains. He’ll deserve any attention he gets against from Chief defense this week.
None of these players are true stars in the game today, and I’d venture to say that none of them will be pro-bowlers in 2013. They are, however, the “lunch pail” type of guys that every team needs, and will do everything within their power to bring the Chiefs down to earth.
What do you think, Addicts? Who else should the Chiefs keep an eye on this Sunday?