The Oakland Raiders have but one thing to play for while in Kansas City for their Week 17 showdown. They have a chance to finish at .500 for the first time in seven years.
For Raider Nation, that may be bigger than a playoff berth at this time. It is definitely bigger than playing for a draft position as they have the last seven years.
They don't have a first round pick in 2011 anyway.
The Raiders have already shown themselves to be a much improved football team than the last seven years. But what better way to show the NFL that the Silver and Black are on the way back than an 8-8 record for 2010.
I'm sure the taste of a last game win will bring more Raider fans to the stands in 2011.
The black cloud will be lifted from Raider Nation.
Turn the page to see why it should happen.
Sunday's game against the Cheifs will be the Super Bowl for the Raiders. With no playoffs for the Raiders this season, there's nothing Raiders would love more than to complete a season sweep of the Chiefs.
It would also mean that the Raider would be 6-0 in the AFC West.
8-8 especially sounds good to the Raiders after all of the losing seasons the last few years.
Raider Head Coach Tom Cable would sure build his case on it to be re-signed this offseason.
The Chiefs can jump over the Colts with the win and a Colt loss but that Colt loss isn't likely. Therefore the Chiefs are pretty much a four seed in the playoffs with the important thing being they're in.
How long will the starters play?
Is one more seat up worth risking your starting quarterback coming off of an appendectomy?
How much punishment will the Chiefs exposed their undersized dynamo Jamaal Charles?
I don't see this game being that important to the Chiefs.
I remember the days that whoever played left tackle for the Raiders was at the mercy of Derrick Thomas and the Arrowhead crowd. There had to be at least 10 false starts per game on the Raiders at that time.
The crowd and Arrowhead is still rowdy but Derrick Thomas and others are no longer there. In 2007, the Raiders started a three-game winning streak in Arrowhead and the Raiders are looking for their fourth on Sunday.
Arrowhead just isn't a place the Raiders fear playing at right now.
The Chiefs have a well designed running game between Charles and veteran Thomas Jones. They run Jones straight at the defense then bring in Charles to run traps, draws, and sweeps with fake reverses.
That well designed running game has led to great result but the Raiders surprisingly kept it under control. The Chiefs were held to only 109 yards rushing and had a 3.1-yard average.
The Raiders are familiar with what the Chiefs do and have some mismatches on the defensive line.
Richard Seymour is the biggest of the Raider mismatches up front. He has not practiced all week, but I think he will play in the season finale. Seymour has rested his hamstring the last two weeks and there's nothing to save him for.
The old warrior isn't going to miss a chance to help get the Raiders to .500 to finish the year. This is big for the Raiders because the Chiefs don't have an offensive lineman that can block him.
This gives the Raiders an edge in the game.
Kansas City Chief quarterback Matt Cassel is a red hot quarterback at this time. The best way to cool off a hot quarterback is to take away his best receiver.
Dwayne Bowe is that guy and he's pretty hot himself.
Asomugha missed the first Chief game with a high ankle sprain and Cassel threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns. One of the touchdowns Cassel threw was to Bowe in the fourth quarter to put the Chiefs ahead.
Asomugha should be shadowing Bowe all day and that will hurt the Chiefs passing game.
This give the Raiders another edge.
Asomugha's presence will not only allow the Raiders to crowd the line of scrimmage to stop the running game. It will also force Cassel into third and longs which are difficult in the face of the Raider pass rush.
The Raiders had three sacks and harassed Cassel the last time the two teams played. I'm looking for more of the same for the Raiders with the coverage being better with Asomugha coming back.
This will be a true test on how Cassel is felling after his appendectomy.
The Raiders only ran for 112 yards in the first game but did so with a 4.3-yard average. This means that third down couldn't have been too long.
Darren McFadden outrushed Charles and Jones collectively with only 89 yards on 17 carries. The Chiefs don't have beasts on the defensive line so Samson Satele and Cooper Carlisle weren't getting killed.
I see the Raiders being able to run the ball Sunday as the Chiefs will have more pass options to watch for.
Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell was up to the task last time even after a bad start. I see him picking up were he left off after finally figuring out what the Chiefs were doing last time.
The Chiefs aren't a dominant pass rushing team and the Raiders running game will lead to play action. Therefore, Campbell shouldn't be under the kind of pressure that doesn't give him enough time to go through his progressions.
Having a full complement of weapons will help too.
Miller is the man that brings this whole Raiders passing game on schedule. He is the key for the Raiders moving the chains on third down and catching balls underneath when the deep ball isn't there.
Miller missed the first game against the Chiefs with play plantar fasciitis so Campbell had to find a go to guy during the game. Miller's presence should lead to a much better start to the game this time around.
Chaz Schilens had two catches for 16 yards last week against the Colts.
Let me tell you how this might just be a big deal.
Schilens has been injured for a great portion of the season then wasn't targeted much as he played the last few weeks. His two catches, one for a key first down shows that Schilens has worked his way into Campbell's radar.
Schilens will be a star next year as he has worked out the injury that caused overcompensation injuries.
Jacoby Ford was the go-to guy that Campbell found late in the first game between these two teams. Now I'm sure he will garner some attention from the Chief's secondary, opening things up for others.
Or he could just hurt the Chiefs himself.
Ford can hurt the Chiefs via kick return, deep ball or reverse.
It will be interesting to see how he figures into the Raider game plan and how the Chiefs will kick to him.
Louis Murphy is also a very dangerous deep threat that comes through in the clutch. He missed the first Chief game along with Miller and Schilens.
Wow, they still won.
It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs will play if Ford and Murphy are in the game together. If the Chiefs give both of their corners help over the top., Miller will kill them down the seams.
What about a three wide receiver set with Schilens, Ford, Murphy and Miller at tight end.
Romeo Cronell isn't sleeping.
The Raiders aren't the AFC West Champions but they match up favorably with the the AFC West Champs. The Raider defensive line has a distinct advantage against the Chief offensive line that will make it hard for the Chiefs to run.
The return of Asomugha will make it less than easy for Bowe to make himself a target for Cassel. I also really like the way Chris Johnson is playing opposite Asomugha now after battling injuries all season.
On defense, the Chiefs don't have the most physical front seven so the Raiders should be able to run. Campbell should then have a big day operating out of play action because the Raiders can run.
Add to that the fact that Chaz Schilens could be starting to get a rhythm with Campbell. Miller will also be a huge help coming back as the Chiefs will have to watch for Ford, the Raiders new weapon.
And Murphy is lurking.
Not that this matters so much to the playoff bound Chiefs.
But it does to the Raiders, who can finish .500 and really make Raider Nation believe.