Originally published on Silver & Black Report on Dec. 12, 2013
The Oakland Raiders (4-9) return home after playing on the road their last weeks to take on the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs (10-3).
The contest marks the beginning of a three-game season finale where the Raiders will face all three divisional foes, with the Chargers on the road in week 16 and the Denver Broncos at home in week 17.
The Raiders are coming off their 12-consecutive loss in the East Coast Timezone after falling 37-27 to the New York Jets last week. The Chiefs are coming off a dominating performance, beating the Washington Redskins 45-10 on the road, ending their three-game skid after starting the season 9-0.
One of the Chiefs' nine victories to begin the season came at the hands of the Raiders, as Dennis Allen and his team fell 24-7 at Arrowhead Stadium in week 6.
The Raiders jumped out to the early lead in the week-six match-up when then starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor found wide receiver Denarius Moore on a slant for a 39-yard touchdown, taking the early 7-0 lead. But that would be the only points for the Raiders as the Chiefs' suffocating defense clamped down on Pryor and finished with nine sacks.
But the Raiders have changed since their last match-up. The Raiders now are starting un-drafted rookie Matt McGloin at quarterback and Moore has been out the last few weeks with a shoulder injury. Moore has returned to practice this week but is questionable for the game as of now.
Should Moore not be able to go, it will be wide receiver Andre Holmes that will step in again as he has done well in Moore's place. With Moore out the last three weeks, Homes has racked up 12 receptions for 231 yards.
Jared Veldheer and the offensive line will have to find a way to keep the Chiefs defensive line off of McGloin, who has used his quick reads to limit the sacks taken since taking over the starting job. One thing in favor for the offensive line is that Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston is limited in practice with his elbow injury.
The Chiefs defense is allowing the fourth-lowest points per game in the league (17.4) while having the best turnover margin (+15). There's no doubt that the Raiders need to value the football and not allow the Chiefs to get points off their defense, as they have been able to do so often this season.
McGloin and the Raiders offense will look to get the passing game going against the Chiefs defense as they rank 19th in the league, giving up 244.0 passing yards per game.
The Chiefs are better against the run, ranking 16th in the league while giving up 113.2 yards per game on the ground. The Raiders will get some relief in the backfield as it appears Rashad Jennings will be ready to play on Sunday following his concussion suffered during the Thanksgiving Day game. It still remains to be seen how the coaching staff will work fullback Marcel Reece into the game plan after he finished with a career-high 123 yards on just 19 carries last week against the Jets' top-ranked defense.
On defense, the Raiders need to find a way to contain Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who leads the team with 1,162 yards and 10 touchdowns. Adding to his season, the versatile running back has also added 460 receiving yards and three touchdowns to his stellar season. The Raiders need to find a way to limit Charles' productivity better than they did in week six, when the former Longhorn finished with 128 total yards and two touchdowns.
Defensive end Lamarr Houston is coming off two rough games and needs to find a way to dominate against the Chiefs in order to apply pressure on quarterback Alex Smith. Smith has turned into a consistent and reliable quarterback for the Chiefs and has thrown for 2,873 yards and 18 touchdowns with only six interceptions.
The Raiders secondary will need to keep an eye on wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who has been playing well as of late. Though he has just 49 receptions on the year, the veteran wide receiver has been known to cause fits for the Raiders and has a touchdown reception in three of the last four weeks.
The Raiders secondary may get an added boost this week as starting strong safety Tyvon Branch may be able to play for the first time since injuring his ankle in week 2. Branch could be a boost to a Raiders defense that has struggled to get off the field on third downs as of late.
The Chiefs also hold specialty weapon Dexter McCluster who has been stellar this season for the Chiefs special teams. McCluster has returned two punt returns for touchdowns this season, something the Raiders special teams unit must be aware of.
Oakland will head down south for their final road game as they take on the San Diego Chargers next week.
Also, everyone remember that U.S. Marines will be located around O.Co Coliseum collecting unwrapped toy donations as well as monetary donations as a part of Toys for Tots. They will stationed in Raiderville, as well as the West Side Plaza, near the BART entrance, and Gates A, B, C, and D, before kickoff.
MILESTONES TO WATCH FOR:
S Tyvon Branch
• Needs one sack to tie No. 3 Albert Lewis (8.0, 1994-98) on the franchise’s career
list among defensive backs. He enters the game with seven after recording one
against Indianapolis in the season opener.
DE Lamarr Houston
• Needs three sacks to enter the top 20 in Raiders team history.
K Sebastian Janikowski
• Has now converted on 158-consecutive PAT attempts.
• Needs just 27 points to reach 1,500 for his career.
• Needs one game played to pass Gene Upshaw and move into sole possession of
second place on the Raiders’ all-time games played list.
RB Rashad Jennings
• Has already surpassed his career-high with 588 rushing yards on the year.
• Has already surpassed his career-high with 833 total yards on the year.
RB Darren McFadden
• Needs 315 rushing yards to eclipse 4,000 yards for his career.
• Needs 470 receiving yards to eclipse 1,500 yards for his career.
• Needs one rushing TD to move into sole posession of ninth place on the franchise’s
career list, and two to tie No. 8 Charlie Smith (24, 1968-74). McFadden enters the
game with 22.
WR Denarius Moore
• Needs 72 receiving yards to reach 2,000 for his career.
QB Terrelle Pryor
• Is currently first amongst all quarterbacks with 508 rushing yards. Pryor could
eclipse the Raiders’ single-season mark of rushing yards by a quarterback with just
22 more yards. Rich Gannon set the mark in 2000 with 529.
WR Rod Streater
• Needs 129 receiving yards to reach 1,500 for his career and 213 for 1,000 this year.
S Charles Woodson
• Needs six interceptions to tie Ed Reed for first on the interceptions list among all
active players with 62.
• Needs one INT-TD to pass Rod Woodson for first on the all-time list with 12.
• Needs one defensive touchdown to pass Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the most defensive touchdowns in NFL history with 13.