The Raiders Secret Weapon vs. Chiefs: Latavius Murray?


The Kansas City Chiefs could be in for more than they bargained for this Thursday night when they travel to Oakland to take on the 0-10 Raiders.

Kansas City is riding high. Andy Reid’s team is on a five-game winning streak, has won seven of eight and just scored a statement-victory over last year’s Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks.

A trip to sunny California to take on the lowly Oakland Raiders should be no problem, right?

Not so fast.

This week in an apparent effort to generate some offense, Oakland is reportedly shaking out their NFL worst backfield.

The Raiders are only averaging 63 yards per game this season. Add to that the NFL’s 26th ranked passing offense and 27th ranked rush defense and what you have is an 0-10 team.

As such, Raiders fans have been calling for Murray to get an opportunity for a while now and seem to believe he can help the team put a more balanced attack on the field.

From Just Blog Baby:

"Murray’s stock has been fairly high amongst Raiders fans for some time now as the struggles of Darren McFadden at times, and the struggles of Maurice Jones-Drew whenever he touches the ball have had many clamoring for the chance to see the second year prospect out of UCF get his chance to prove himself. That appears like it will come on Thursday night in Kansas City where the Raiders offense needs to finally produce a balanced attack that can put points on the scoreboard."

Murray has been productive in his very, very limited action this season. The second-year pro out of Central Florida has received only ten carries but has averaged 5.4 yards per attempt. Last week against the Chargers, Murray received four carries and turned them into 43 yards. He also grabbed three receptions for 16 yards.

There is no telling how the Raiders will deploy Murray Thursday against the Chiefs. That is precisely the problem facing Andy Reid and Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, who have had to prepare for Oakland on a short week.

Still, for the Raiders, trying something different in the running game could give them a puncher’s chance of upsetting KC.

Thursday night’s game is the definition of a “trap game” and the Chiefs had better be prepared for a battle.

The NFL season is a marathon. The way a team plays in September and October can be totally different than the way it plays in November in December. Further, the way teams approach their opponents changes as the game tape piles up.

The Chiefs have weaknesses that, to this point, it has been able to overcome. Namely, the Chiefs are not good against the run. Just last week in this very column, I talked about how dangerous Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle’s rushing offense would be to the Chiefs’ chances for victory.

I even gave Andy Reid a little advice on how to deal with the Seahawks:

"If the Chiefs want to score a crucial and impressive victory on Sunday, the defense needs to continue to stiffen in the red zone and Andy Reid needs to make sure he sticks to the running game, even if it doesn’t work at first."

That is exactly what the Chiefs did. I was pretty sure Kansas City wouldn’t be able to stop Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson from running the ball between the 20s. Indeed, that was the case. The Seahawks gashed the Chiefs for 204 yards on the ground and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Yet the Chiefs managed to pull out a victory by running the football just as effectively and by getting defensive stops when it needed them in the fourth quarter.

Giving the ball to this guy usually works out pretty well for the Chiefs in Oakland. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The more teams continue to have success against the KC run defense, the more the Chiefs are likely to have to deal with opponents trying to exploit that weakness. This week, however, the good news is that even if the Oakland surprises Kansas City by making its running game more effective with Murray, the Chiefs’ blueprint for victory remains the same. The Raiders boast one of the league’s worst run defenses so if the Chiefs take care of the football and serve up a heavy dose of Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, KC should be able to escape this road game with another win.

Make no mistake, however, this contest is dangerous for the Chiefs. Earlier this season, the Cleveland Browns were coming off a huge victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that has dominated that once great rivalry since the Browns returned to the NFL. The next week, Cleveland traveled to Jacksonville to take on the lowly Jaguars. The desperate Jags decided to give Denard Robinson a go at running back that week and he responded by shredding the Browns for 127 yards and a score, while the Jaguars defense stepped up and shut down the then formidable Cleveland rushing attack.

Oh yeah, and just ask the Denver Broncos about how going on the road to play a “bad team” went for them last week.

History tells us the Oakland Raiders are probably going to win a game this season. The Chiefs, who play the Oakland twice over the the Raiders’ final six games, had better make sure that victory doesn’t come against them.