When it comes to NFL rivalries, the Chiefs and the Raiders are among the biggest, ugliest rivalries in all of football. For the past three years the Chiefs and Raiders have struggled, but both teams' recent success in free agency and the draft have them primed to break out in 2010. I expect the Chiefs to win both games against the Raiders, but they'll both be close. This is a list of the top five reasons the Chiefs will beat the Raiders in 2010.
Despite the Chiefs having one of the worst rushing defenses in 2009, they were able to shut down the Raiders horrible rushing game. You'd think the Raiders would have a good running game especially with 2008 fourth overall pick Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, who was supposed to be good in 2009. But, McFadden has become another mega-bust and Michael Bush hasn't lived up to expectations.
The Chiefs have, by far, the best young secondary in the NFL with outstanding corners Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr and newly added safety Eric Berry, who is one of the top safety prospects ever. It will be tough to pass against the Chiefs especially since they've shored up the safety position, arguably the Chiefs biggest weakness in 2009. Plus Oakland lacks a significant receiving threat outside of tight end Zach Miller.
I predict that the Chiefs will have the best running game in the NFL in 2010. With running back Jamaal Charles' dynamic speed and bruising Thomas Jones the Chiefs have two proven runners. Both ran for over 1,000 yards in 2009. I say they'll run all over the Raiders, who had the third-worst run defense in the NFL last year. The Raiders added linebacker Rolando McClain, but is McClain's 4.8 speed faster than Jamaal Charles' 4.3 speed? I don't think so. Expect the Chiefs to pound the ball and take advantage of the Raiders' horrible run defense.
The Raiders' offensive line allowed more sacks than the Chiefs in 2009. The Chiefs offensive line was terrible in the first half of the season, but improved in the second half. For example, Branden Albert didn't allow any sacks over the last six games after a shaky start, and Brian Waters only allowed one sack all year long. The Chiefs also added help with two-time Super Bowl starter Ryan Lilja to start at right guard and 2008 Pro-Bowl center Casey Wiegmann. The Chiefs' line was already better than the Raiders' and it only got better.
The Chiefs have better coaches than the Raiders. With Todd Haley at head coach and geniuses Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, the Chiefs have a better coaching staff than Oakland. Weis and Crennel coached the Patriots in three Super Bowl Victories. Plus, Weis will really help Matt Cassel at quarterback as he was the secret to Tom Brady's success and Notre Dame quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen.