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Rewind: Oakland Take Five

Posted Nov 8, 2010

Revisiting five things to watch from pre-game

Kansas City heads into the Black Hole today in search of a record-setting eighth consecutive victory at the Coliseum. A win would not only put the Chiefs in a class of their own, but victory would also separate Kansas City from the rest of the AFC West as well.

There is much on the line as these two bitter rivals meet for the 103rd time Sunday afternoon. Let’s take a look at five keys to success in achieving a record-setting victory in Oakland.

1.       No-Run DMC

The Chiefs have yet to square off against a rushing attack as impressive as Oakland’s. Ranked second in the NFL (behind the Chiefs) at 168.5 yards per contest, the Raiders have actually outrushed Kansas City by 57 yards during their two-game winning streak. Oakland has put up 92 points behind 567 rushing yards these past two weeks due to a dominating effort from the offensive line and breakaway runs from Darren McFadden.

Defeating the Raiders begins with stopping the run each and every week, but it’s even more critical today. Oakland’s top two receiving targets (TE Zach Miller and WR Louis Murphy) should be out of action, forcing the Raiders to lean on even more heavily on McFadden’s rushing output. Between Miller and Murphy, Oakland will have 55 catches and 798 receiving yards watching from the sidelines, Corralling McFadden forces Oakland to find an unlikely source of offensive output if they expect to emerge victorious.

Except for one 34-yard run, the Chiefs were able to keep McFadden in check throughout most of the afternoon. Unfortunately, McFadden’s one outburst took part during the heart of Kansas City’s nightmarish third quarter and it put Oakland in position to take its first lead of the day. Without that 34-yarder, McFadden would have finished with a modest 55 yards on 16 carries (3.4 avg.).

Unfortunately, it was an unlikely source of offensive output that stepped up and burned the Chiefs. With Oakland missing its top-two receiving targets, unheralded rookie WR Jacoby Ford turned in some big-time plays and took over the game. His six catches for 148 yards led the team and his 94-yard kickoff return TD flipped the game’s momentum. Ford was also responsible for setting up Oakland’s game-tying and game-winning field goals. Prior to Sunday, Ford had just four catches for 37 yards with no TDs.

2.       Raider Mistakes

Personal fouls, botched fake field goals and late-game turnovers have all been part of Oakland’s arsenal during Kansas City’s seven-game winning streak at the Coliseum. The Raiders once again lead the league in penalties. In fact, they’ve committed 44 more fouls than Kansas City this season (81 vs. 44). What they haven’t done, however, is turn the football over.

Oakland has turned over the football just 10 times in 2010 to help propel them into the thick of the AFC  West race. Forcing a few turnovers today, mixed with Oakland’s high penalty rate, should prove to be a winning recipe for Kansas City. The ball probably won’t be in the air much, so gang tackling of McFadden is a must.

Do we need to get back into this one?

Raider mistakes became part of Kansas City’s day and it resulted  the most-penalized football game that the NFL has seen this season. The Chiefs were out of character on Sunday.

It’s almost unexplainable that Kansas City actually won the turnover and penalty battle with 12 penalties for 100 yards AND two giveaways. Oakland did what was expected of them by making those typical “Raider Mistakes” - high penalties rates, multiple turnovers and a loss of challenge flags were all part of Silver and Black’s day.

Smart football would have easily sunk the Raiders on Sunday, but the Chiefs played only marginally smarter than Oakland. In the rest of the world, that’s not very smart.

3.       Balanced Offensive Attack

Even though the Chiefs own the league’s best rushing attack, Kansas City is at its best when the passing game is able to compliment the run. Games against San Francisco, Houston and Jacksonville all resulted in point totals that eclipsed 30-point mark, 200-plus yard rushing performances and efficient passing attacks that hovered near or above 200 yards. Keeping opposing defenses off-balance has lead to dominating ground performances in each of those games and the Chiefs must take advantage of a Raiders squad without the services of All-Pro CB Nnamdi Asomugh (ankle).

Behind All-Pro DL Richard Seymour and a number of “zero” looks, the Raiders were able to make Kansas City one-dimensional. Midway through the second quarter Matt Cassel was actually the Chiefs leading rusher with less than 20 yards. The passing game carried the Chiefs through most of the first half before inconsistencies struck just before half and carried into the second half.

Though Jamaal Charles was able to break off a few nice runs, Oakland limited the Chiefs to just 3.1 yards per carry. The rushing total marked a seasonal-low for Kansas City and played an underlining role in the Kansas loss just behind the high penalty rate.

4.       Game-Changing Kickers

If the Chiefs are going to punt, they’ll need a repeat of last Sunday’s effort against Buffalo. Kansas City was able to dictate Buffalo’s field position throughout the day by eliminating three-and-outs from the stat book. If the Chiefs punted, it was usually after a first down or two, and the Bills were stuck inside their own 20-yard line for most of their starts.

Keeping three-and-outs off the field is even more important today against Oakland. With P Shane Lechler and K Sebastian “Sea Bass” Janikowski, the Raiders have the ability to alter the course of a game through field position. The 60-yard punts and 55-yard field goals may occur, but Kansas City can fight back against two of the league’s most impressive kickers through first downs and ball control.

Janikowski technically changed the game with a game-tying kick to close regulation and a game-winning kick in overtime, but that’s not what we were trying to measure in pre-game. The goal was to control field position and Kansas City’s kickers seemed to do that effectively enough. Colquitt’s overtime punt from the Kansas City end zone was as clutch of a punt as you’ll see, but unfortunately it didn’t matter.

Colquitt and Succop did a nice job matching up with Lechler and Sea Bass.

5.       No Point Left Behind

To say that matchups between the Chiefs and Raiders are usually close is an understatement. Six of the seven games in Kansas City’s current winning streak at Oakland have been decided by seven points or less. Inefficiency in the Red Zone or a missed field goal could prove to be the difference in this one, and the winner likely won’t be leaving points on the field.

The Chiefs are 3-1 this season in games decided by seven points or less, while the Raiders are 2-1.

Kansas City left far too many points on the table. The halftime score could have legitimately been 24-0. Points were left all over the field due to penalties and turnovers in the Red Zone. This part of the game was digested earlier today in The Morning After.

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