Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders Week 7: 12 Players To Watch On Sunday
Both teams have a history of heated match ups and will be looking to gain some ground on the San Diego Chargers.
The Chiefs have been hit hard with injuries this season yet are still relevant in the division. At 2-3, Todd Haley’s squad is set to continue defining odds and he must certainly be content with the position they are in.
Raiders coach Hue Jackson and his team have had a crazy passed few weeks. They've experienced emotional highs and lows which included the passing of owner Al Davis.
They are currently second in the division at 4-2 and are playing stellar football at the moment.
On Sunday, each squad will be anxious to get off the mark quickly and certain names are worth keeping an eye on.
Here are 12 players to watch during this AFC West clash.
1. Carson Palmer, QB, Oakland Raiders
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The former Bengals gunslinger has barely been a Raider for a day.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he is slated to start ahead of Kyle Boller come Sunday.
Much to the dismay of Boller, Raider fans must be sighing in relief at the news of Palmer’s inclusion.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any warranted skepticism.
Palmer has not played or practiced since last season, and the monumental task of leading the Oakland offense seems pretty challenging.
The former Heisman winner is still an upgrade to the quarterback position, and he should be able to get others involved relatively quickly.
Still, the decision to start Palmer is risky and all eyes will be on the newly-acquired QB right from the start.
2. Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
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With so many of his weapons from last year succumbing to injury, Matt Cassel has done a valiant job in leading the Chiefs.
He has had no feature running back since Jamaal Charles went down with a knee injury and the absence of tight end Tony Moeaki eliminates a red zone threat from last year.
Even with all the issues, Cassel is still playing intelligent football, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes on the season.
Throw in eight touchdown tosses against his five interceptions and those are relatively solid numbers for a quarterback in his situation.
Cassel will yet again be called upon to lead his offense, and he will be fresh off a bye week going into this game.
3. Darius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland Raiders
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As a first rounder, Heyward-Bey has failed to meet his expectations since coming into the league out of the University of Maryland.
Plagued with injuries and inconsistency his first few seasons, a gigantic microscope will be on the 24-year-old now that Carson Palmer is here.
With the acquisition of Palmer, the speedy receiver should see his production increase.
On the season, he has 22 catches for 345 yards and one touchdown.
The former Terrapin has deep-threat potential with his speed and elusiveness.
Fans of the Raiders are still waiting for Heyward-Bey to break out and live up to the hype.
Hopefully the arrival of Palmer can help his development.
4. Steve Breaston, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
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As the second receiver on the depth chart, playing on the other side of Dwayne Bowe might give Breaston a boost of confidence.
The All-Pro Bowe is playing outstanding once again this year, and knowing that Breaston can certainly benefit.
The Oakland secondary is decent at best and with Bowe in the line up, most of the attention will be on him.
This should allow the former Cardinals receiver to get favorable match ups and exploit the secondary over the middle.
Already doubling his touchdown output from last year (he has two thus far), Breaston should be able to fly under the radar and provide a second outlet for Cassel.
5. Kevin Boss, TE, Oakland Raiders
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Another player that will benefit greatly from the arrival of Carson Palmer, Kevin Boss has been underachieving since arriving in Oakland.
After sealing a move from the New York Giants, Boss has been quiet so far this season and is looking to establish himself within the offense.
As an athletic tight end who is capable of both blocking and receiving, Boss needs to use his experience to prove himself once again.
He should be able to provide a shorter outlet for the quarterback but he's also speedy enough to get open downfield.
Boss is hoping to revitalize his season through some positive play, while Raider fans are wishing for the same.
6. Derrick Johnson, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
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With Eric Berry sidelined the rest of the year, Derrick Johnson is the best defensive player KC has, and he must prove it Sunday.
With the spotlight on the high-powered running game of the Raiders, Johnson is the first and last line of defense if the Chiefs expect to slow the game down.
The linebacker has the unwanted task of looking after Darren McFadden. He is the only player on the Chiefs who is strong and quick enough to get to the running back.
With 31 tackles on the season, Johnson will be looking to add a few more to his total come game day.
Johnson must be at his best if he expects to halt the play of McFadden.
If he isn’t, expect the score to get out of hand quickly.
7. Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
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As the league’s leading rusher, Darren McFadden already has a massive target on his back.
The former Arkansas triple threat has tacked on 610 rushing yards so far this season and has found the end zone four times.
The heart and soul of Oakland’s offense, McFadden has shaken off-field problems en route to solidifying himself as an elite running back.
He is the definition of the phrase “game-changer” and is a constant nuisance to opposition defenses.
Expect the ball to be in McFadden’s hands A LOT on Sunday, because the success of the club is dependent on the 24-year-old.
8. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
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Fresh off an All-Pro 2010 season, Dwayne Bowe is picking up right where he left off.
The tempo of the offense is set by the former LSU Tiger, and Cassel will be looking to his number one target to win his one-on-one battles.
Like I said before, Oakland’s secondary is not as threatening as they were a year ago, so look for Bowe to take advantage.
He has the quality to go up and get balls he should not be catching, as his grab in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts will attest.
Still, Oakland’s main concern will be stopping the Pro Bowler, and Bowe will rely on his freakish talents to outduel the Raider’s secondary.
9. Sebastian Janikowski, K, Oakland Raiders
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Arguably the greatest kicker in the game today, Sebastian Janikowski is as valuable to this team as any one else on the roster.
Time and time again Janikowski has come up huge for the Raiders, and earlier this season he drilled a 63-yard field goal, tying an NFL record.
Having such a clutch kicker, Hue Jackson can go for field goals when a lot of other teams would be punting. Janikowski’s leg has saved the Raiders many blushes.
If the game is close towards the end, the Raiders just need to get in field goal range.
They have a chance to win with Janikowski kicking.
10. Jon McGraw, SS, Kansas City Chiefs
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Jon McGraw had some big shoes to fill when starting safety Eric Berry went down with a season-ending injury.
Having to replace the Pro-Bowl Berry in the lineup, the 32-year-old McGraw has done a decent job compensating for the loss.
He has recorded 22 tackles so far and notched one interception.
After getting torched the first two games of the season, McGraw and the secondary have toned down the mistakes a bit.
Still, they will need to be on the toes the entire game in order to eliminate big plays from players like McFadden.
McGraw and the safeties need to keep the Raiders offense off balance if they stand any chance of staying in the game.
11. Rolando McClain, LB, Oakland Raiders
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Another high pick of the Raiders, Rolando McClain is looking more and more unlike a typical Oakland draft selection.
Rolando McClain can play some ball and it was evident even in his college days that he had the potential to be great.
McClain is going to need to get to the line and clog up the middle, and attempt to disrupt the rhythm of the Chiefs’ offense.
The former Alabama star doesn’t get to quarterback as much as he should but his influence on that defense is obvious, even at such a young age.
McClain can be a star in this league as long as he keeps his head on right.
The Raiders finally look like they picked a good one.
12. Dexter McCluster, KR/RB, Kansas City Chiefs
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Coming out of Ole Miss in the 2010 NFL draft, a lot of people were talking about Dexter McCluster.
While in school, McCluster excelled at three different positions on offense.
He made an instant impact his first game as a Chief, returning a 94-yard punt for a touchdown.
McCluster has slowed down a bit but his skills can erupt at any time, and the Chiefs have made him their everyday punt returner.
He is a threat any time he gets the ball in his hands, but Kansas City doesn’t target him as much as they should.
The young back is looking to establish an identity on this Chiefs offense.
I think he could form a nice duo with Jamaal Charles when he returns next season.