COVERING ALL THINGS SILVER AND BLACK

Chiefs Know They Must Stop Raiders' Run Game

Hue Jackson still hasn't named a starting QB.

By Doug Williams
|  Sunday, Oct 23, 2011  |  Updated 1:38 PM PDT
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Chiefs Know They Must Stop Raiders' Run Game

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Kyle Boller started at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders against the Kansas City Chiefs instead of newly acquired Carson Palmer.

Coach Hue Jackson did not announce his starter until game time.

He decided to go with  Boller, who has been with the team all year, rather than Palmer, who had been working out on his own in Southern California before the deal.

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After starting 0-3, the Kansas City Chiefs have won two straight and are coming off a bye week as they prepare for Sunday’s matchup at O.co Coliseum against the Raiders.

In their past three games, the Chiefs – who started the season by being pummeled by an 89-10 margin by the Bills and Lions the first two weeks of the season – have been much improved, thanks in part to quarterback Matt Cassel, who’s thrown seven TD passes vs. just one interception, while having a quarterback rating of 100 or better in each game.

Cassel, however, isn’t the quarterback anyone outside Kansas City seems interested in talking about this week.

Carson Palmer, acquired by the Raiders Tuesday in a trade with the Bengals, is one of the biggest stories in the NFL now.

As of Friday morning, head coach Hue Jackson hadn’t announced if Palmer would start Sunday, but team and league sources have indicated in several reports that it will be Palmer, not Kyle Boller, who will be Oakland’s quarterback.

Jackson, in fact, said Palmer has been “executing flawlessly” in practice this week.

Whether the longtime Bengals standout can shake off his rust, learn enough of the plays and be ready to play against K.C. – while keeping up the momentum of the Raiders’ 4-2 start -- is the biggest storyline going into Sunday’s divisional matchup.

Yet the Chiefs say they can’t worry about who they’ll be facing, and they can’t go into the game thinking they’ll have an advantage if it’s Palmer behind center because of his lack of preparation time.

“The thing about this league is that you think you have an advantage sometimes – less preparation from another team or another guy,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson told reporters this week. “But everybody is a professional. He’s going to get ready to play. He’s a smart guy and this is a copycat league. I’m sure he’ll fit right in.”

And, the Chiefs know the Raiders are a run-first team. No matter who the quarterback is, they have to stop Oakland’s run game.

Darren McFadden leads the NFL with 610 yards, and the running game is No. 2 in the NFL overall, averaging 160 yards per game.

“If we don’t do that, it will be a long day for us,” said Kansas City head coach Todd Haley. “It won’t matter who’s playing quarterback.”

The Chiefs’ defense, a 3-4 scheme coached by Romeo Crennel, has been porous so far, ranking 21st in the league against the rush, 17th in pass defense and 19th in yards allowed. The loss of Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry for the season was a big blow, but linebackers Johnson and Tamba Hali (four sacks) are active, and Crennel often uses a heavy blitz package.

On offense, the Chiefs are sixth in the league in rushing, even with the loss of top back Jamaal Charles, and Cassel and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (23 catches, four TDs) have been an effective combo the past few weeks.

 

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