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Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer leads Oakland against a struggling Chiefs team Sunday. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
With a win over Jacksonville Sunday and a near upset of the unbeaten Falcons a week earlier, the Oakland Raiders finally have a bit of momentum.
And now, they’re getting a chance to play a Chiefs team that’s not only one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments, but is switching quarterbacks at mid-season.
With a victory, the Raiders, 2-4, could get back to within a game of .500 with struggling Tampa Bay (2-4) on the horizon (Nov. 4).
The Chiefs, at 1-5, have benched quarterback Matt Cassel in favor of Brady Quinn, who will start against the Raiders in Kansas City Sunday.
The Chiefs, who have had some key injuries on defense and been inconsistent on offense, amazingly have not had the lead in a game yet during regulation-play this season. According to the Kansas City Star, the Chiefs are the first team not to have a lead at least once through six games in the NFL since 1983.
The Chiefs’ lone victory came in a 27-24 decision over the Saints on Sept. 23 when Ryan Succop kicked a field goal on the final play of overtime.
Plus, the Chiefs have been consistently buried at the start of games, being outscored 51-6 in the first quarter, which takes away their best offensive weapon late in games, running back Jamaal Charles, who ranks No. 3 in the NFL in rushing.
Throw in the fact that Kansas City is last in the NFL in turnover margin (minus-2.5 per game), and it’s no wonder the Chiefs are 1-5.
“Unfortunately, we’ve put ourselves in positions in the third quarter and early fourth quarters when we’re down by too many points,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll told the Kansas City Star.
When the Raiders go into Kansas City Sunday, their revitalized secondary – which has played much better the past two games since the bye week – will face a quarterback making his first start this season in Quinn. And the Raiders’ offense, which came alive when it went to the no-huddle against Jacksonville in the second half, will face a vulnerable defense.
Opposing quarterbacks have a 106.5 passer rating against K.C. this season and the Chiefs’ secondary is allowing an NFL-worst 8.9 yards per pass play.
If the Raiders can get off to a good start offensively Sunday, and put the Chiefs in a hole once again, it may be difficult for Kansas City to climb out.
Figure that Oakland, still struggling to get its running attack going, will give the ball to Darren McFadden early and often. The Raiders aren’t giving up on the idea that McFadden is still their most dynamic offensive player.
The Chiefs rank 22nd in the league against the run, giving up an average of 125 yards per game.
Sunday could be the day McFadden gets going.
“He’s still an explosive player,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen told the San Francisco Chronicle this week. “We’ve got to do a better job creating room for him to run. We’ve incorporated a few more of those gap-scheme plays, and I know you can say this on every play, but we’re one block here or there from a big run.”