Image edited by Brett Gering
If you're reading this, a small part of your soul probably burns with a deep-seated hatred for the Oakland Raiders.
The rivalry between the Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs simultaneously serves as one of the ugliest and most beautiful examples of why sports are captivating. It's like a bulldog with emphysema.
If you file into Arrowhead this Sunday, you're bound to see someone with a faded, barbecue-stained Vanover jersey drunkenly shouting obscenities at a middle-aged man rocking an eyepatch and plus-sized Fisher Price spikes.
Initially, your intuition tells you to shout "earmuffs!" toward anyone less than a decade removed from owning a binky. But after you accept your declining faith in humanity, you realize that a self-loathing fraction of you kind of loves it.
Here are five bold predictions for Raid-uhsss Week (there won't be any Berman GIFs—promise).
No. 92 is basically a walking orca.
He harnesses the power to slice through double teams and enough speed to hunt down passers before they're finished processing their "Sweet Jesus!" reactions. If you're sitting in the nose-bleeds and Poe is draped in all red, you'd swear that Super Mario's younger, bigger brother just dipped into his star stash and bolted onto the field.
There's a very real possibility that Kansas City's half-man, half-mountain could register multiple sacks against Oakland, and it's not due to whom he's (probably) squaring off against.
Stefen Wisnieski is a respected center (especially in the run game). However, he missed last week's contest with a knee sprain.
Although Wisniewski's status was upgraded to questionable for Sunday, he'll be anchoring on a presumably gimpy knee while trying to fend off the world's biggest pit bull off its leash.
I apologize in advance for the barrage of numbers you're about to digest.
Darren McFadden, pictured above, is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game due to a hamstring injury.
If Oakland's speedster is sidelined, he'll be replaced by Rashad Jennings, who has amassed 120 yards on 30 carries (four yards per attempt) in 2013. Twenty-six of those 30 handoffs came against the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers—the 26th- and 28th-ranked rushing defenses in the NFL.
Before you give a fist pump of faith for the Chiefs defense: Kansas City currently sits at No. 30. But if you're an optimist, allow me to brighten your day with a glimmer of hope.
If you take the aforementioned numbers at face value, the Chiefs allow a gaudy 5.3 yards per carry.
But anybody with the gift of sight could inform you that a substantial amount of opponents' rushing yardage has sprouted from quarterbacks scrambling for their athletic lives.
They could also tell you that LeSean McCoy was the only running back to punish Kansas City's front seven on a consistent basis. And that week, Bob Sutton issued uncharacteristically conservative play-calling in an effort to force Michael Vick into beating the Chiefs through the air.
When scrambling passers are removed from the equation, Kansas City's 5.3 average dwindles down to 4.4, which still isn't anything to write home about. However, if the prime-time showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles is canceled out, opposing running backs have tallied a meager 3.4 yards per handoff. Every tailback not named McCoy has failed to surpass 60 yards rushing.
Let me state the obvious: Jennings, a bigger but slower back who tends to run upright, doesn't reside in the same stratosphere as Shady McCoy.
By now, everyone has seen the pictured punt return where Dexter McCluster spins like Barry Sanders in Madden '95 before posterizing a handful of brave souls. (On a side note, Ryan Succop looks like he's celebrating with a "Lord of the Dance" routine. Kickers will be kickers.)
There are two things that you need to know.
Firstly, McCluster is Pro Football Focus' (PFF) No. 1-ranked punt returner. The Chiefs' asphyxiating defense (also ranked No. 1) has paved the way for the man of many moves to field four more punts than his closest competition.
Only three of McCluster's 21 opportunities have been capped off with fair catches, and he's currently averaging 13.6 yards per return—fourth amongst specialists who have fielded double-digit attempts.
Secondly, Oakland's punter, Marquette King, has only authored two fair catches in 25 punts this season. The former number ranks King 32nd out of 33 candidates.
If the Chiefs defense headlines another clinic and their offensive brethren remain allergic to turnovers, the Raiders will be working with long fields throughout the afternoon, and King will be forced to roll the dice by booting it to McCluster.
You're probably thinking that 350 yards of total offense resides in the neighborhood of Colin Kaepernick-like numbers.
Well, so far, that hasn't been the case in 2013. Alex Smith has overshadowed his successor by accounting for 233 more passing yards, an extra touchdown and one less interception. Despite his receiving corps already posting 14 drops (four more than Kaepernick's), Smith's 58.4 completion percentage is also greater than his former protege's, which rests at 56.1.
And from a dual-threat standpoint? Kansas City's starter has churned out seven more rushing yards than the man who dethroned him.
Smith has 18 less rushes and 10 more yards than Trent Richardson.
None of the above ensures that the trend(s) will continue, but it does prove that No. 11's dual-threat potential can't be brushed aside as an anomaly.
You can expect another dose of it versus the Raiders.
PFF currently slots Oakland with the league's 31st-ranked pass rush and 28th-ranked pass coverage. And because 4-3 schemes tend to be more vulnerable in read-option scenarios, there's little doubt that Andy Reid will utilize it to tip the scales in Kansas City's favor.
Each of the five squads that Oakland has faced rank 27th or lower in pass and/or run defense.
Heading into Week 6, the Chiefs represent the No. 12 run defense and No. 7 pass defense. Bob Sutton's unit leads the NFL in points allowed (11.6 per game), sacks (21) and turnovers (tied with 15).
Coincidentally, Terrelle Pryor will be making his 10th career start—and Arrowhead debut—on a Sunday when Kansas Citians will be attempting to reclaim the coveted noise record. To put Arrowhead's ear-bleeding decibel level into context, Chiefs fans' collective screams shattered a press-box window in Week 2 (click the link, I'll wait).
Pryor appears to be on his way to becoming a solid quarterback. More times than not, he makes the proper read, shows poise in the pocket and exhibits underrated accuracy when delivering the ball. Plus, it's no secret that he can move the chains with his feet if need be.
However, Pryor has yet to cross paths with a defense like Kansas City's inside of an atmosphere like Arrowhead's.
The aforementioned factors, combined with the fact that Oakland is making do with a makeshift offensive line, don't bode well for a relatively inexperienced quarterback.
PFF's No. 1 defense will be facing that quarterback. Its No. 1 punt returner will be fielding kicks from an unreliable punter. And Kansas City's aerial attack will be barraging a subpar secondary.
Step away from the windows.
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