NFL Week 16 Predictions: Forget Defense, Oakland Raiders Need to Outscore Chiefs

Nathaniel Jue@nathanieljueSenior Writer IIDecember 23, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 10:  Denarius Moore #17 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates a touchdown in front of Quentin Jammer #23 and Paul Oliver #27 of the San Diego Chargers to take a 24-10 lead at Qualcomm Stadium on November 10, 2011 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The last time they faced the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders were thoroughly demolished at home, to the tune of a 28-0 scalping.

To make matters more embarrassing, the Raiders donated six interceptions to the Chiefs’ defense—two of which were returned for touchdowns. It was quite a debacle at the Coliseum.

What made that particular game so significant to the Raiders season, however, was the fact that it was Carson Palmer’s debut with the Silver and Black. The semi-retired quarterback had just been acquired during that week—after starter Jason Campbell broke his collarbone during the previous game.

The team was at a turning point of their season: Which direction should they go in order to feel safe and secure about who would guide them with Campbell sidelined? How would they reach the playoffs with second-string backup Kyle Boller as the starter? How would they win with him?

In a scramble mode, head coach Hue Jackson hand-picked Palmer to essentially save the team from having Boller during Campbell’s absence. With the addition of Palmer, Jackson forecasted sunny skies for the Raiders’ playoff hopes.

And Raider Nation was abuzz at that possibility.

The idea that Palmer would be the savior that would return the Raiders to prominence had the team more hopeful than it had been in nearly a decade.

But as we all know, Jackson’s prophecy has not come true: not yet at least. And the Raiders (7-7), find themselves at another crossroads: needing to win their final two games and get some help in order to reach the postseason.

And, again, the opponent standing in the way is the Kansas City Chiefs (6-8).

A lot has happened since these two teams last faced each other eight weeks ago. Both teams have been mired with injuries. Both teams have had their fair share of quarterback issues. Both teams have had up-and-down performances.

The Chiefs saw their head coach fired earlier this month, before upending the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers. And yet, both teams have outside chances of reaching the playoffs—the Chiefs sit a mere game behind the Raiders.

Pending some miraculous conglomeration of events, Kansas City can indeed sneak into the postseason.

For the Raiders, however, they are not about to let that happen—if they want to keep their own playoff dreams alive. To retain their own ambitions, Oakland will be glad to redeem themselves from that Week 7 thumping. One key difference is Palmer himself.

n the first matchup, Palmer was thrust into the second half of the game, as Jackson attempted to squeeze some magic right out of the gate—a mere six days after Palmer joined the team. But no miracle was performed, and Palmer contributed three second-half interceptions to the cause.

This time around, Palmer has several weeks’ and reps’ worth of experience with his receivers, playbook and offense under his belt. And he is well prepared to finish what he tried to do during his Raiders debut—beat the Chiefs.

Unfortunately, he does not have a full arsenal at his disposal, as several members of Oakland’s offense are incapacitated (Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford).

But reports out of Raiders camp suggest that running back Michael Bush is banged up as well, according to CSN Bay Area. Obviously he will play, but the Raiders’ performance offensively has been suspect since McFadden went down, coincidentally in the first contest against the Chiefs.

Whatever the case may be, and whoever is in the lineup for the Raiders, one thing is for sure: Oakland needs to atone for their previous mistakes, this time in a hostile environment at Arrowhead Stadium. Looking in their rear view mirror at their frustrating loss last week to the Detroit Lions will only make matters worse than the already daunting task at hand.

The stakes are what they are, and everyone on the team is aware of what needs to be done. But using revenge as motivation will not be the answer.

The Raiders are a different squad than they were back then. Entering the first meeting, Oakland—despite losing Campbell for the season—carried a swagger that emanated from their head coach. But this weekend, the Raiders no longer have that bravado.

Instead, they are stoic about what is on the line for them: a playoff berth.

Much has been said about the Raiders’ defensive lapses in the past few games. But it all starts and ends with the offense—Jackson’s bread and butter. Oakland knows its defense is porous. At this point in the season, they can acknowledge and accept what and who they are as a unit.

The stats, the plays, the moments and the penalties all show where they are as a defensive team. The objective for Oakland, then, is to compensate by performing even better on offense. Score more points. Keep scoring.

In Palmer’s six games as the starting quarterback, the Raiders have scored an average of 22.4 points per game. Including his second-half performance against the Chiefs, Oakland has only a 20.9 points-per-game average.

Meanwhile, in Campbell’s six games as the starter, the Raiders scored at a more hefty 26.7 points per game. Certainly the quarterbacks aren't the only piston in the offensive engine—especially considering that McFadden has been out for nearly two months. But, there’s something to be said about the decline in scoring with Palmer at the controls.

Jackson needs to get his boy back on track, play smarter and engineer touchdowns for the entire game. Not putting up points on a consistent basis in the first quarter is unacceptable. Not scoring enough points in the fourth quarter is unacceptable.

True, the Raiders will need to tighten up their defense if they want to make their way to the playoffs, either via winning the AFC West crown or sneaking in with a wild card, but come this weekend, they’ll simply need to outscore the Chiefs.