Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders: Full Oakland Game Preview
Both teams' playoff hopes have fluctuated throughout the season. Though unexpected, the Raiders tasted early successes to propel the franchise into playoff contention.
Despite losing starting running back Jamaal Charles amid a 1-5 start, Kansas City currently holds an AFC wild-card spot and an 85 percent chance of playing in the postseason, per ESPN analytics (via ESPN.com's Adam Teicher).
The Raiders plan to spoil those chances and create their own postseason pathway. It begins with a quality victory over a division opponent steamrolling the competition with physicality and a smothering defense.
This contest resembles the Raiders’ Week 10 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Oakland must stop the run and find holes in an aggressive secondary that has allowed fewer than 200 passing yards in four of the last five games.
It’s Raiders versus Chiefs for second place in the AFC West and possibly a playoff spot. What’s the buzz between these two teams? Who wins the first matchup?
Location: Oakland Coliseum; Oakland, California
Date: Sunday, Dec. 6
Time: 1:05 p.m. PT / 4:05 p.m. ET
Week 12 Results and Recap
Denver Broncos (9-2)
Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)
Oakland Raiders (5-6)
San Diego Chargers (3-8)
AFC Wild-Card Race
Kansas City Chiefs* (6-5)
Houston Texans* (6-5)
New York Jets (6-5)
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
Oakland Raiders (5-6)
Buffalo Bills (5-6)
*Note: Team currently holds a wild-card spot.
As the Denver Broncos continue to win games with quarterback Brock Osweiler, second place in the AFC West could clinch a playoff spot.
The Chiefs and Raiders find themselves in the thick of a postseason race that takes a significant turn regardless of the outcome.
A victory boosts Oakland back into second place with a tiebreaker advantage over Kansas City and four games left on the schedule.
News and Notes
Jack Del Rio Says No to USC
According to the San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami, "USC checked in on Jack Del Rio a while ago, and he told them he's not leaving the Raiders."
Del Rio supporters can rest easy, knowing the head coach values his current gig over a prestigious position at his alma mater.
When local reporters asked whether he’d attend USC’s Pac-12 title game against the Stanford Cardinal, Del Rio replied, "We've got our own work to take care of."
Del Rio Endorses Jeremy Ross as a Punt Returner
"He gave our punt return unit a lift," Del Rio said of kick-return specialist Jeremy Ross during Tuesday’s press conference. "I thought he was decisive. I thought he handled himself like a professional returner back there, just alerting the unit to get away from the ball, taking the ball and getting vertical right now. So we're going to give him an opportunity to continue."
Ross fumbled on a kickoff return that could’ve changed the completion of the game, but Del Rio focused on the bigger picture.
The Raiders needed a boost in punt returns and swapped potential candidates in and out of the lineup over 12 weeks. Despite the sloppy conditions in the previous outing, Ross impressed the coaching staff enough to stick around for another week.
What's Next for D.J. Hayden?
In a surprising but overdue personnel substitution, the coaching staff plugged cornerback David Amerson into the starting lineup over D.J. Hayden.
Hayden played five snaps on defense and six with the special teams unit, per NFL.com’s gamebook. According to Pro Football Focus, Amerson only allowed two catches and broke up four passes out of 10 targets.
Amerson’s performance should keep him in the starting lineup, but it’s anyone’s guess as to Hayden’s role on Sunday. Although, another shot as a nickelback seems likely.
Rodney Hudson (DNP)
Center Rodney Hudson (ankle) missed Wednesday’s practice and remains questionable to suit up against his former team on Sunday.
The Raiders need a boost from the rushing attack. Without Hudson, running the ball up the middle presents a marginal threat to the Chiefs' interior defense.
Neiron Ball (DNP)
Neiron Ball (knee) also missed Wednesday's practice.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce poses a huge threat to the Raiders' short-to-intermediate pass defense as a big-play target. Ball’s absence places more pressure on the safeties to shadow the tight end on midfield and deep routes.
Taiwan Jones: (Knee, LP)
Keith McGill: (Ankle, DNP)
Charles Woodson: (Shoulder, DNP)
Derek Carr vs. Chiefs Safeties
Quarterback Derek Carr struggled against the Vikings' two-high safety personnel in Week 10. On Sunday, he’ll likely face a similar challenge in dissecting Kansas City’s secondary, which heavily relies on its safeties in coverage.
Carr must develop the ability to manipulate safeties in coverage to open up deep routes for wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. A consistent threat in the backfield could also draw an extra defensive back into the box.
Raiders Run Defense vs. Chiefs Running Backs
Oakland’s run defense plummeted from No. 2 to No. 18 within weeks. Despite Charles' season-ending knee injury, the Chiefs found new life in their ground attack.
Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware have picked up the slack. They have run through and around defenses with complementary skill sets.
West poses a threat as a ball-carrier and receiver. Ware lowers the boom between the tackles.
The Raiders limited the Tennessee Titans' struggling ground attack but face a tougher challenge against a run-first offense with multiple weapons in the backfield. The Chiefs eclipsed 100 rushing yards in each game within their five-game winning streak.
X-Factor: Latavius Murray
The Raiders need a little deja vu from running back Latavius Murray. In his first appearance against the Chiefs, he lit the field on fire with four carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
Now, he’s in a funk, held under 60 rushing yards and averaging 2.9 yards per carry on the ground over the last three outings.
During Tuesday's press conference, Del Rio expressed the importance on balancing the offense with a more effective ground attack.
Murray meets a stout challenge in Kansas City’s No. 9 run defense. The Chiefs have allowed 100 rushing yards in one of the last four contests.
Murray cannot become enamored with flashbacks from Week 12 in 2014. He’s facing a much tougher Kansas City run defense on Sunday.
Prediction: Chiefs 27, Raiders 20
This matchup stacks up closely to the Vikings matchup. The Chiefs offense doesn’t provide flash but rumbles through defensive lines with a powerful ground attack.
Secondly, quarterback Alex Smith’s mobility poses another challenge to the Raiders pass rush.
The patchwork on the Chiefs offensive line will lead to more bootlegs and quarterback sneaks in short-yardage situations.
Since Week 8, Oakland has struggled to stop power-rushing attacks.
However, the pass defense has steadily improved since safety Nate Allen's return. Cornerback T.J. Carrie should limit Smith's targets to Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on the perimeter. Kelce will emerge as the No. 1 target in the middle of the field.
The Raiders come into this contest with a one-dimensional offense. Kansas City frequently utilizes three safeties in coverage, which presents trouble for Carr and the passing offense.
Oakland would need Cooper and Crabtree to explode on Kansas City’s secondary for a victory. The Chiefs will limit the Raiders' scoring opportunities with ball control and close out a team that typically struggles to finish games.
Chiefs 27, Raiders 20