Week 12 Preview: Chiefs @ Raiders

Dec 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) is congratulated by teammates after catching a touchdown pass against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) is congratulated by teammates after catching a touchdown pass against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs (7-3) take a five-game winning streak to Oakland to face the winless Raiders (0-10) Thursday night.

Although the game may appear to be a mismatch on paper considering the Chiefs dominate many areas statistically, the short week could lean in Oakland’s favor since the Chiefs had to travel.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid knows the challenges a short week can present and began to prepare before last week’s game started.

“You don’t have quite as much time to go over things,” Reid said. “Sometimes that can be a good thing, sometimes it can be bad. We actually started (preparing) before the (Seattle) game.”

However, it’s one thing to be prepared and quite another to keep the players focused to take a winless team seriously.

“I know they haven’t won a lot of games, but they are very close in every game,” Reid said of the Raiders. “So that grabs your attention and their athletic ability and scheme are good, too. In this league, we understand that there is a fine line between winning and losing so you don’t take anybody lightly.”

As if there weren’t already enough potential pitfalls for the Chiefs, they must not overlook the Raiders with an enormous game against the Denver Broncos looming in Week 13.

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith says that won’t be an issue.

“We do such a great job of living week-to-week, and this week it’s a short week,” Smith said. “Guys immediately right after the (Seattle) game knew what we had in hand. Division game, on the road, there are too many things at stake here for us to even talk like that.”

TALE OF THE TAPE

Offense

• The Chiefs rank fourth in rushing (141.2 yards per game) and 31st in passing (186.8 yards per game).
• The Raiders rank last in rushing (63 yards per game) and 25th in passing (213.4 yards per game).

Defense

• The Chiefs rank 25th against the run (124.4 yards per game) and have the league’s best pass defense (201.6 yards per game).
• Oakland ranks 27th in run defense (129.8 yards per game) and 12th against the pass (235.4 yards per game).

THE LAST TIME

Thursday night will be the 111th overall meeting between the Chiefs and Raiders, a series in which Kansas City leads 57-51-2.

Last season’s two wins against Oakland, which included snapping a six-game home losing streak at Arrowhead Stadium and running back Jamaal Charles’ five-touchdown performance at Oakland, was the first time Kansas City swept the series since 2006.

The Chiefs have faced the Raiders more than any other team in their history and are 4-6 against Oakland in the last 10 games.

STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH

Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston’s 12 sacks leads the NFL and the team ranks third in the league in total sacks (30). The Chiefs did a good job of pressuring mobile Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson last week, and recorded just two sacks.

“We’re always playing together and just clicking,” said Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey, who has four sacks on the season. “There’s no quitting in the whole defense.”

Despite the struggles of its rushing attack, Oakland’s offensive line has been the second-best in the league at allowing sacks, giving up 12 in 10 games. Comparatively, the Chiefs have allowed 25 in that time.

Don’t be surprised to see the Raiders employ a short passing attack, allowing rookie quarterback Derek Carr to stay upright, much like those used against the Chiefs in the last few weeks.

THOMAS GETTING INVOLVED

While it may not show in the boxscore, the Chiefs have incorporated running back De’Anthony Thomas heavily during the last few weeks. Thomas touched the ball four times last week against the Seahawks, but was in motion often, forcing the defense to account for his pre-snap movement.

“Every week we give him a little bit more,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “So, where he was playing about 20 percent, this week he was at 33 percent. You just keep adding into the package and he’s able to handle it and do well, but you want to keep positive stuff for him.”

Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano says the difficulty comes from Thomas not being present on every play.

“It’s a lot easier to track a great player when he’s on the field all the time,” Sparano said. “But when all of a sudden these players start to get in and out of the football game a little bit like that and here he comes, he’s at a different spot, and here he is, they’re using him a different way here. So it makes it a little bit hard.”

Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson expects the “ghost motion” and end around plays featuring Thomas to continue.

“What (the motion) does is it just gets eyes defensively on him,” Pederson said. “And whether it softens the guys up or it ticks their feet just a little bit, that’s what creates some of your running lanes with some of that ghost action and that around action.”

QUOTABLE

Chiefs coach Andy Reid on playing in the Black Hole:

“That’s a wild place to play and they remind you that it’s a rivalry every snap.”

Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano on being 0-10:

“It’s tough but nobody feels sorry for you in this business.”

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce on running back Jamaal Charles:

“Right now he’s the best back in the league. You can quote me on that.”

Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson on Dontari Poe being utilized as a receiver on the goal line:

“I don’t know if we would split Dontari Poe out wide like that and throw him a fade. But you never know…”

PREDICTION

Despite the short week, the Raiders simply don’t have the offensive ability to beat the Chiefs.

Oakland ranks last in the league in yards per game, yards per play, points per game and has the worst rushing attack in the league. Although their passing statistics are better, the Raiders still rank in the bottom-third of the league through the air.

Running back Jamaal Charles had a fantastic game in Oakland last year, totaling five touchdowns. While he may not have a repeat performance Thursday night, the Raiders 25th-ranked run defense will have their hands full with the Chiefs’ runners.

Look for the Chiefs to get an early lead and establish the run to shorten the game.

Kansas City linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston should have plenty of opportunities to pressure Oakland rookie quarterback Derek Carr as the Raiders try to pass to stay in the game.

Outcome: Chiefs 31, Raiders 10

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