Oakland Raiders Opponent Preview: Get to Know the Kansas City Chiefs

Oct 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) celebrates after a sack against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) celebrates after a sack against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Here is everything you need to know about the Week 14 opponent of the Oakland Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs.

For many of the Oakland Raiders faithful fans, this Thursday’s showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs was circled on the calendar long before the season began. That said, with the season progressing as it has, expect the intensity to be dialed up to eleven come primetime at Arrowhead.

With Oakland now sitting at 10-2 and Kansas City just behind at 9-3, the stage is set for the game that will most likely decide the AFC West Champion and owner of home-field advantage come playoff time. The Raiders will have a difficult test against the Chiefs, having already lost to them 26-10 in the Coliseum in Week 6.

Without further adieu, let’s examine an opponent we know (and hate) all too well, the Kansas City Chiefs.

As always, before we examine the strengths and weaknesses of this Chiefs unit, let’s start with the coaching staff.

Head Coach: Andy Reid

Co-Offensive Coordinators: Brad Childress and Matt Nagy.

Defensive Coordinator: Bob Sutton

As already mentioned, the Chiefs are right behind the Raiders in the AFC West, notching a 9-3 record and frothing at the mouth at the chance to rip the division lead away from the Silver and Black. Kansas City is coming off two straight nail-biting finishes that attest to the strength and resilience of coach Reid’s men.

Two weeks ago against the Broncos in Mile High, the Chiefs manufactured a late game drive and subsequent two point conversion to take the game to overtime. After slugging it out with the the Broncos, Cairo Santos banged the game-winning field goal off the left upright and (just) in, winning the game with no time to spare.

Last week saw the Chiefs closeout another tight game against the Falcons in Atlanta. With Atlanta’s offense going for a two-oint conversion to extend their lead to a field goal, Eric Berry picked off Matt Ryan in the end zone. Running the length of the field to pick up two points and the lead, Berry handed the ball to his mother in the stands. A year after recovering from cancer, Berry’s gift to his mother was no doubt one of the moments of the season.

All in all though, this Chiefs team is one with a never say die attitude, and a knack for winning close games of late. This may well be the toughest game the Raiders have all year. Let’s start with the defense:

Here’s the Chiefs defense by position:

LE: Rakeem Nunez-Roches

NT: Dontari Poe

DE: Chris Jones

LOLB: Dee Ford

LILB: Derrick Johnson

RILB: Ramik Wilson

ROLB: Tamba Hali

CB: Marcus Peters

SS: Eric Berry

FS: Ron parker

CB: Phillip Gaines

As of writing, the Chiefs currently have three of their defensive starters on the injury report. Phillip Gaines, Dontari Poe and Tamba Hali being the men in question. However, in Tuesday’s practice Gaines and Poe were full participants with Hali limited. Expect all three to play come Thursday night however.

Statistically speaking, the Chiefs defense hasn’t exactly been playing as well as they look on paper. This may come as a shock to some readers, but heading into this week the Chiefs defense is ranked only one spot higher than the Raiders (29/30) in total defense. Do not adjust your sets. To their credit, the Chiefs are equal second in interceptions in the NFL, but rank in the middle for sacks despite the recent outstanding effort of Justin Houston who put up 3 against Denver two weeks ago. Exactly what type of unit will hop off the team bus is anyone’s guess.

Houston certainly has been playing well of late, but expect Carr and Hudson to be able to manage the protection against him and the likes of Dee Ford (10 sacks on the year) reasonably well. Kansas City’s run defense isn’t exactly stellar either, ranking 26th on the year and averaging 121.9 yards surrendered per game. Musgrave could certainly use Murray and Richard in a similar way to last week’s victory over the Bills.

More from Las Vegas Raiders News

Further on the point of interceptions, the Chiefs secondary is where the defense’s strong point is. Whilst also not spectacular yardage wise, the Chiefs two cornerstones in the secondary, Eric Berry and Marcus Peters, stand out as potential difference makers come Thursday night. Berry is coming off a big game last week in Atlanta and will look to continue his form. Peters, an Oakland native, often plays his best against the Raiders and has no doubt been a thorn in Derek Carr’s side in his short career so far.

Peters rightly won Defensive Rookie of the Year last year, having led the league with a staggering eight interceptions (tied with Reggie Nelson). Of the three career games Peters has had against his hometown team, he’s picked off Derek Carr twice. Not to mention that he and Crabtree have formed somewhat of a rivalry. Peters needs to be accounted for, and Carr can’t afford to lob up a prayer in his vicinity as Peters has some of the best hands for a cornerback in the NFL.

Now let’s examine the Chiefs offense:

QB: Alex Smith

RB: Spencer Ware

WR: Jeremy Maclin

WR: Chris Conley

TE: Travis Kelce

LT: Eric Fisher

LG: Zach Fulton

C: Mitch Morse

RG: Laurent Duvernay-Tardfi

RT:Mitchell Schwartz

Starting with the obvious, the Chiefs will be without their star running back Jamaal Charles on Thursday night. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Chiefs placed Charles on IR in early November as he’s undertaking knee surgery.

Even without Charles, the Chiefs offense has been very impressive of late. Good Morning Football pundit Peter Schrager even went so far to say that “Alex Smith is having one of the best seasons of his career”. Smith’s stats aren’t exactly eye opening, 11 touchdowns to 4 interceptions, certainly a far cry from top tier quarterback stat lines.

But Smith has always been a game manager, and it’s what he excels at. He’s an accurate conservative quarterback who can dissect your defense apart, one play at a time. The Raiders secondary will be under the microscope all game long. Last week the pass rush was pushed when trying to bring down an athletic quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, but managed well. This week, the corners and safeties will no doubt have their work cut out for them.

Key to this game for the Raiders is again going to be the pass rush. If Mack and Irvin can get to Smith quickly, they can alleviate some of the pressure on the secondary. Furthermore, one probably needs three hands to count the amount of times Smith has scrambled out of the pocket and ran for crucial first downs against the Raiders in recent years. Keeping Smith on his back, and applying pressure quickly on the pocket to simultaneously shut down Smith’s escape routes and force quick decisions could well prove vital.

Smith’s favorite target is of course tight end Travis Kelce, who is enjoying a stellar year. Kelce is closing in on a thousand yard season, and whilst only having three touchdowns to his name, is a key cog in the Chiefs offense that routinely relies on him to help move the chains. With Karl Joseph out, Kelce could well niggle at the Raiders all night long.

The Chiefs have also been optimistic about the return of Jeremy Maclin to the starting lineup on Thursday as well, which will no doubt bolster Smith’s aerial attack in Arrowhead. It’s likely that Norton will pair Sean Smith up against his former teammate. Tyreek Hill could also be another name to watch. The electric receiver did notch a season low in snaps last week, but has been outstanding in the return game, collecting a touchdown against the Broncos in their overtime thriller.

Lastly, taking the special teams examination further, the Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos will no doubt be counting his lucky stars from two weeks ago. His game-winning field goal against the Broncos hung in the balance for a split second, teetering between hero and villain status. Santos is hitting just under 90% of field goals this year with a long of 54 yards. In a potentially close game, Santos could certainly be the difference maker again. Finally, Punter Dustin Colquitt is certainly enjoying a positive season as sits in the top 5 for punts inside the 20, ranking near the top of the league in average distance also.

Wherever you are Thursday night, make sure it’s somewhere you can tune in. It’s sure to be a big one.

More from Just Blog Baby