It’s the third series of the final quarter of the season, and the Oakland Raiders desperately need to get in the win column on this drive. They hit the Midwest one last time to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. If they lose, the season is pretty much over.
Today’s game should take on the theme of “The Big Payback” as the Raiders were embarrassed at the Black Hole when they first met 28-0. Of course, things have somewhat changed. Kyle Boller is not the starting quarterback, and Carson Palmer is now eight games into the season, and has shown signs of the old Palmer. And even though the Raiders have struggled at times in the second half of the year, they are a more balanced offense now than they ever were before.
The good news about today, is that the game is in Kansas City where the Raiders have won four straight games and look to make it five, but to do so there going to have to focus for a full 60 minutes.
Although Palmer has given Oakland a balanced attack on offense, their bread and butter is their running game. Without running back Darren McFadden, whose foot injury has caused him to miss the second half of the season, they will have to rely on Michael Bush to carry the load one again. Bush started off great in McFadden’s absence, averaging 115.3 yards per game through the first four games, but over the last four games he’s only averaged 60.5 yards per game. He has to get over a 100-plus rushing yards against Kansas City for the Raiders to control the time of possession battle. The Chiefs are not going to put up a lot of points, but if you let them control the time of possession they become a dangerous ball club, just ask the previously undefeated Super Bowl champs, the Green Bay Packers.
Palmer must obviously be able to do his part in the passing game to keep the Chiefs defense on their hills. If Oakland is able to execute on offense, they will be able to put up more than enough points to win the ball game.
Defensively, the Raiders haven’t look like bullies since the second quarter of the season. Instead, they’ve look like posers allowing teams to do whatever they want at will, which is not going to cut it for a team looking to make the playoffs. Throughout last week’s game against the Lions, defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan looked to have finally put together a solid game plan, but that all came crumbling down in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders must contain the Chief’s running game if they want to give themselves the best chance possible at winning Saturday’s matchup, there is no way around it period, point blank. Oakland’s run defense is a microcosm of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Raider Nation hopes to see Dr. Jekyll doing surgery on the Chiefs anemic offense.
Head Coach, Hue Jackson, has led them this team through a lot of obstacles throughout his first season, and just when you thought he guided them through the storm, they’re back in a world-wind of uncertainty. Will the Silver and Black muster up enough resolve to give themselves a chance to make the playoffs? I guess we’ll have to wait until 4:15 pm eastern time to find out.
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Written by Arthur Kai