The Kansas City Chiefs are on the way to the playoffs for the NFL 2010 season. But if one were to see the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, they'd swear it were the the Raiders going to the playoffs as the AFC West champs.
It is very disappointing for Raider Nation to see the Raiders not win the AFC West and enter the playoffs because they had their chances. However, the Raiders did emerge as the bullies of the division as they finish the season 6-0 in AFC West play.
Only two of the six games were really close.
The 5-0 mark the Raiders posted in the division was ignored by most of the media coming into Sunday. Some of it was the Raiders fault, dropping four of their last six games going in.
The other part of it was the the play of Matt Cassell and Jamaal Charles against a weaker schedule. Those games against the weaker foes led most of the media to believe Charles was Barry Sanders and Cassel was Tom Brady 2.0.
I understand the statistical sexiness the two had built up but stats are sometimes deceiving. They should rank football teams the same way they rank boxers.
Being undefeated with a high percentage of knockouts is sexy but you're nobody until you fight somebody.
Turn the page to see how this applies to Sundays game.
Matt Cassel is a pretty good quarterback but calling him an elite quarterback is a long stretch. He did have a stretch of football where he was great and turned his receiver Dwayne Bowe into a star.
Cassel had 27 touchdown passes and five interceptions going into Sunday. During his hot stretch, he played against the No. 22 (Cardinals), 21 (Rams), 25 (Broncos), 28 (Titans), and 29 (Seahawks) ranked pass defenses.
Cassel has only played against three top 10 pass defenses all year. In those five games, the Chiefs only won one of them.
Cassel threw for a paltry 595 yards in five games with three touchdowns and three interceptions. 216 of those yards and two of those three touchdowns were against a Nnamdi Asomughaless Raider team.
But in the season finale, Cassel threw for 115 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. And yes, Asomugha was on the field for that one.
No Brady 2.0 for Cassel.
Dwayne Bowe was just another part of the Chiefs circumstantial passing stats. His 1,116 yards receiving with 15 touchdowns was a big step toward being what he was drafted for.
But like his quarterback, I have to shed some light on how circumstantial Bowe's stats are. I already showed you the ranks of the pass defenses they played against during the hot streak he and Cassel were on.
Now it's time to look at how he does against the top pass defenses of the NFL. Bowe had 153 yards 14 catches and no touchdowns in those five games.
If Cassel's numbers are paltry during that time, what do you expect from Bowe?
In the season finale, Bowe had five catches for 68 yards with no touchdowns. (Nothing on Asomugha)
So how was he supposed to do big things on the Raiders' top three pass defense?
I could hardly understand why Charles is drawing comparisons to Barry Sanders these days. He is averaging six yards per carry but he's al another one of those circumstantial players the Chiefs have.
The Chiefs are the only team in the NFL that have played against the four worst run defenses in the league.
That's the Bills at No. 32, the Broncos twice at No. 31, the Cardinals at No. 30, and the Raiders twice at No. 29. The Chiefs have only faced two top 10 run defenses while having 11 games against bottom 12 run defenses.
Add to that the fact that Charles isn't even a feature back with the bull's eye on his back. Sanders took his team's load with everyone in the stadium knowing that he was getting the ball. Charles gets only a couple of carries in the first half at that while Thomas Jones pounds at the defense.
Charles is also the King of running on passing situations and formations. That was the case on a third down near the goal line were Charles got in the end zone out of a passing situation untouched.
Did people ever think that his yards per carry was so high because he gets all of his yards before he's confronted with the first defender?
That was evident on his 47-yard run where he was untouched until Raider safety Tyvon Branch caught up to him.
That 47 yard run along with the short touchdown run was all the damage Charles would do on the day. He didn't dominate the game with his carries, he just had one big one.
He finished with 14 carries for 87 yards on the day.
That gives him only 140 in two games against the Raider's No. 29 ranked run defense. I don't see that being Sanders' two game total against the No. 29 run defense.
A big part of why the Chief's big three were unable to get of was because the Raider defensive line. The unit harassed Cassel all day and got six sacks out of the deal.
No Richard Seymour, no problem.
The Raider defense still managed three other tackles for a loss in the game. Outside of Charles' 47 yard run, the Raiders shut down the Chief's vaunted rushing attack.
The Raider defensive line dominated, holding the Chief offense to 201 total yards.
Kamerion Wimbley showed the league why he was a first round pick on Sunday. Wimbley had three sacks on the day to go with numerous pressures and hits
John Marshall was on point Sunday with all of the blitzes he was calling. He also lined Wimbley up as and end on passing downs and he was disruptive to the Chiefs from there as well.
Those three sacks Wimbley had Sunday raised his total to nine for the season. While he has done a good job as an all around linebacker all year, it was nice to see him do what he does best Sunday.
Wimbley gets after the quarterback.
They say that you're no longer a rookie after week 10.
I guess that's why McClain didn't look like a rookie on Sunday as he had one of his best game as a pro. McClain had 9 tackles, one for a loss with a pass defensed on the day.
That's what the Raiders will see from McClain every week next season.
All the hype was on Bowe and Cassel making their connection going into the game. But if the dream of making a big play on Asomugha, they better wake up and apologize.
They played the game as if they were making that apology to Asomugha. Cassel didn't even look in Asomugha's direction when dropping back to pass on Sunday.
Knowing whoever Asomugha was on wasn't an option allowed the Raiders to do more with their defense.
One of the things Asomugha's coverage does is allows free safety Michael Huff to cheat a little. He was able to get a good jump on a ball intended for Bowe with Stanford Routt in coverage for an interception.
Routt himself was able get a jump on one and take it to the house on Sunday. Those two interceptions led to a 19.8 quarterback rating for Cassel on the day.
It helps a defensive back to know where the ball is going on a given play.
The Raider secondary at least knows where it's not going.
Chaz Shilens has been back for a few weeks now but seems to be getting on the same page with quarterback Jason Campbell. The only thing bad I can say about that is it came on the last game of the season.
If not they could have made each other that much better.
Many may wonder why I'm touching on this because Schilens had only three catches for 24 yards on the day. Of those three catches, two of them were on third down with one for a first down and the other for a touchdown.
Schilens showed that he can get it done on third down to move the chains and in the red zone. The Raiders sure could have used a player like this all year to go with tight end Zach Miller and the speedsters.
Barring another off season surgery, Schilens will pay off big next season.
With Darren McFadden's toe preventing him from playing in the season finale, Michael Bush showed that all is not lost. He isn't the dynamic breakaway threat McFadden is but there wasn't a drop off in production.
Bush had 25 carries for 137 yards and a 26-yard touchdown run on the day. He would also have four pass receptions for 34 yards Sunday.
That stat line is right in line with the ones McFadden put up this year.
Jacoby Ford didn't duplicate the big day he had against the Chiefs in the first game.
He didn't come close.
He didn't have to.
But he still left paw print on the game with big plays.
He had only one catch but it was for 35 yards and it set up a touchdown. Ford would also go on to score a touchdown on a 10-yard reverse.
You just don't know when or how he's coming.
Campbell only had 155 yards passing in the game on Sunday but he did what ever he needed to do. He kept the Raider offense on schedule as he was 5-8 passing for third down conversions.
He ran for some first downs as well.
Just the fact that he went back in the game and finished uplifted the team that he led to victory. I sure would have liked to see the deep ball he threw to Murphy be completed.
Murphy shockingly let that one get through his hands but plays like that did stretch the field. Campbell was still efficient on Sunday as was able to check down with the Chief secondary worried about the deep ball.
Campbell's performance on the day wasn't anything to write home about but enough to win the game.
It is clear that the best team in the AFC West is going to the playoffs this year. The Raiders drove that point home about as far as you can drive it on Sunday.
Their schedule was a little tougher as they played the Steelers while the Chiefs played the Bills.
Didn't Boise State beat the Bills a couple of weeks ago?
But the Raiders look to have that swagger back knowing they went 6-0 in the division this year. The swagger will show up big time when the Raider lace 'em up next season.
The Chiefs may have just lost their playoff game Sunday as the AFC West bullies took their confidence. Bullies take things from you every time they see you around the block.
And that's what the Raiders did again to close the season Sunday.