Raiders Must Burn Flowers to Beat the Chiefs

The Oakland Raiders head to Kansas City to take on the 5-0 Chiefs. Arrowhead Stadium has been kind to the Silver and Black, the Raiders have not suffered a loss in Arrowhead since 2006. The Chiefs are 7-9 point favorites on most spreads and boast a star studded roster featuring six pro bowlers. The Chiefs have played mistake free football and sound defense to get to 5-0. On paper the Raiders shouldn’t stand a chance, but with Raiders versus the Chiefs anything leading up to the game doesn’t really weigh in on the final result. Whether its the Chiefs only needing a win to get in the playoffs as they were in 1999 and fall short because of the last minute drive of Rich Gannon or its the Chiefs winning the division, but losing to the Raiders 31-0 as was the case in 2010, these games are not played on paper. I believe the victor of this first matchup will boast the team with the best quarterback play.
Alex Smith will have an easier task as Oakland has allowed one of the highest completion percentages to opposing quarterbacks with 72.3 percent. Alone this statistic would generally create enough doubt to announce the Chiefs as victorious before the kickoff and allow Oakland to use the gas money on a new stadium. However after further inspection or inside the numbers if you will, the Raiders faced Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Chad Henne and RGIII in surrendering such an atrocious completion percentage. Any of these quarterbacks will attempt passes Smith would not dare try given his careful mistake free mindset. Alex Smith more times than not will throw a ball away versus attempting a pass into tight coverage. The Raiders have had tight coverage and in some cases bracket coverage on receivers, yet the aforementioned QBs were able to fit the ball into these tight spots or simply gave their receiver a chance to make a play. In addition, a defensive philosophy of the Raiders is “to bend don’t break” and in doing so have allowed fewer points than most teams, 21.6 per game, 13th fewest in the league), in spite of such a high completion percentage. Alex Smith will be harassed by a variety of blitzes and Eric Fisher’s inability to deal with the power of Lamar Houston. Eric Fisher has struggled with power rushes all year and Lamar Houston, a defensive tackle by nature, is one of the stronger defensive ends in the league.
Terrelle Pryor will face a stout test with the Chiefs’ defense. They lead the league in turnover margin with +10 and have strong edge rushers in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. However, the Chiefs have surrendered a considerable amount of rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick rushed for 50 yards, Blaine Gabbert rushed for 16 yards and Michael Vick rushed for 99 yards. Given the constant pressure of the Chiefs front seven and Pryor’s athleticism this should be an area Oakland looks to exploit. The Chiefs defense as a unit is more fast than strong which may pose problems for Darren Mcfadden’s lack of lateral quickness unless a significant effort is made to get him in the open field possibly via misdirection or screens against an overly aggressive defense. Mcfadden will draw considerable interest where ever he is on the field, somhe may best be deployed as decoy. The biggest area Oakland should target early and often to increase chances of victory is Brandon Flowers. Flowers is a really good corner yet he lacks change of direction speed and as a result is routinely victimized by double moves, back shoulder throws and come back routes. Flowers victimizing was on full display versus Dez Bryant, Desean Jackson the past few weeks and Jacoby Ford in 2010, any of these games should serve as a blue print for the Raiders’ passing game. If Oakland can exploit Flowers early and force safety help and in doing so eliminate any type of QB spy on Pryor, the rest of the offense will open up and possibly pace the way to victory. Either way the game figures to be an exciting slobber knocker and a win by the Raiders could do a lot for the confidence of a young team leading into a stretch of tough, but winnable games.

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4 Responses to “Raiders Must Burn Flowers to Beat the Chiefs”

  1. Chiefs aren’t 6-0, they are 5-0, just sayin’ don’t jinx the Raiders! (: