By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) – A date with the winless Oakland Raiders is all that
stands between the Kansas City Chiefs and first place in the AFC West.
Week 12 of the NFL season kicks off Thursday night when the streaking Chiefs
visit the Bay Area to take on the hapless Raiders, who have lost 16 straight
games dating back to last season.
Kansas City, on the other hand, has won seven of its past eight games after an
0-2 start, including a 24-20 victory against the reigning Super Bowl champion
Seattle Seahawks last weekend.
“It feels good to know that we were able to bounce back after a poor start at
the beginning of the season,” Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali said. “But we have
a lot of work to do.”
The Chiefs are currently tied with Denver atop the AFC West and would surge
one-half game ahead of the Broncos, at least for the time being, with a
Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis combined for three rushing touchdowns against
the Seahawks while the Kansas City defense made some key stops down the
stretch in the win.
Charles carried the ball 20 times for 159 yards, his ninth career 150-yard
effort, and two touchdowns for the Chiefs who have won five in a row. Davis’
4-yard TD run with 13:41 to play gave Kansas City the lead and the defense
held on, stopping three different Seahawks’ fourth-down attempts.
Alex Smith completed 11-of-16 passes for 108 yards for the Chiefs, who
improved to 21-5 at Arrowhead Stadium against the Seahawks.
“Our defense, we were sitting there with three fourth down plays late in the
game and they stepped up,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid. “They did a phenomenal
job there of getting off the field.”
Oakland, meanwhile, continued its losing ways last weekend, managing just six
points in San Diego as the Chargers halted a three-game skid with an
unimpressive 13-6 triumph.
Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr was 16-of-34 for 172 yards. His final
completion, a 28-yarder to James Jones, converted a 4th-and-9 from the Oakland
13. After spiking the ball to stop the clock with 11 seconds remaining in the
game, he threw a Hail Mary pass that was five yards short of the end zone.
“No one’s giving up, no one is going to give up,” Carr said.
The Raiders registered only nine first downs in their 16th straight defeat.
“It was a tough loss, but you have to stay positive,” said Raiders veteran
safety Charles Woodson, who had a game-high 14 tackles against the Chargers.
“We have another game on a short week this Thursday night against a division
opponent, so we just put this one behind us.”
Kansas City leads its all-time series with Oakland by a 55-50-2 margin and has
won the past two. On Thursdays, the Chiefs are 10-8 while the Raiders are
under water at 7-9.
The teams will also meet in the “Show Me State” on Dec. 14.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Kansas City lost to the Broncos in the Rocky Mountains back in September and
the rematch looms in Week 13, meaning this could be the stereotypical trap
game for the Chiefs, something Reid is likely anticipating.
“The team is excited about the win (over the Seahawks),” the coach said, “But
they also know we are getting on a plane to fly out and play a good Oakland
team on Thursday. We’ve got to make sure we enjoy this, but we have to get
ourselves back and ready to go quickly and we understand that.”
“Good Oakland team” might be a bit of a stretch, considering the Raiders are
dead last in offensive production, mustering only 276.4 yards per game.
The lack of a consistent running game is especially frustrating because in
theory it would help a rookie quarterback trying to find his way. But, Oakland
is mustering just 63.0 ypg on the ground, also 32nd in the NFL and nearly 18
yards behind the next worst (Detroit and Arizona).
Carr leads all rookies this season with 2,075 passing yards and 13 touchdowns,
both of which are franchise records for a first-year player and that
occasional production has the Raiders 26th in the league through in the air,
which is at least a little more respectable. His occasional success hasn’t
translated into points, however, where Oakland is again behind the rest of the
line at 15.2 points per game.
“There’s a lot for every quarterback to get ready for, especially with a
talented defense like Kansas City has,” said Carr. “It just puts more on your
plate and you just knock it out in the time that we do have.”
That talented defense is a top-10 unit that is especially dominant against the
pass, ranking No. 1 in the NFL by allowing 201.6 ypg. Overall, K.C.’s stop
unit is second in points allowed at 17.1 ppg and eighth in yardage,
surrendering 326.0 ypg.
“They’re a good football team, a well-coached football team, a physical team,”
Oakland interim coach Tony Sparano said of the Chiefs.
The one area where Oakland has been OK is pass protection, keeping Carr clean
for the most part by allowing just 12 sacks. Kansas City, however, gets after
the QB better than most and has accumulated 30 sacks (12 by Justin Houston),
good for third in football.
“They’ve got a great front – a big, physical bunch of guys,” Sparano said.
“They get after you pretty good.”
Carr was also a limited participant in Oakland’s first two practices this week
due to a quadriceps injury.
“We kept him limited, and we’ll see where he is (Wednesday),” Sparano said. “I
honestly wish I could give you more, but you have to wait and see where
exactly he is and how he responds.”
Veteran Matt Schaub is the alternative if Carr can’t go.
For the Chiefs offense, it’s all about Charles, who matched Priest Holmes and
Larry Johnson for the most 150-yard rushing games in Kansas City history last
The dynamic back is averaging 5.5 yards per rush in his career, the best mark
in NFL history and was the first player in league lore with four receiving TDs
and a rushing score in a single game the last time these two teams met, a
56-31 Chiefs win last December.
“He’s Jamaal Charles,” Reid said. “He’s a special player.”
He’s so special in fact that he allows Smith to play game manager, something
the veteran signal caller does very well, especially against the Raiders.
Smith is 4-0 as a starter against Oakland in his career, throwing 10 TDs
versus just one interception in those games.
The Raiders haven’t won a football game in a calendar year and are bogged down
in the NFL’s worst losing streak since 2009 when St. Louis finally ended a 17-
game slide and Detroit did the same with a 19-game hiccup.
Short weeks tend to favor the home team and it’s almost human nature for the
Chiefs to want to look ahead at the Broncos. That said, Reid, who is now 18-9
(including playoffs) as the head coach in K.C., is one of the best coaches in
the game when it comes to preparation and Oakland just doesn’t have enough
firepower to deal with the Chiefs’ defense.
“You don’t have quite as much time to think over things,” Reid said of the
short week. “Sometimes that could be a good thing, sometimes it could be bad.
We have to get ourselves back and ready to go quickly, so we understand that.”
Sports Network predicted outcome: Chiefs 24, Raiders 14