Red-Hot Chiefs Present Problems For Raiders

Kansas City's physical defensive front and explosive running attack will be huge challenges for winless Oakland Thursday night

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The schedule maker certainly wasn’t kind to the Raiders this week.

After falling to 0-10 this past Sunday in a loss to the Chargers, Oakland has had a short week to prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs, who visit O.co Coliseum Thursday for a 5:25 p.m. kickoff on national television.

And the Chiefs, at 7-3, are coming in hot. After starting the season 2-3, Kansas City has reeled off five straight victories, including a 24-20 decision over the Super Bowl-champion Seahawks last week.

In that game, the Chiefs played a physical game on offense and defense, stopping Seattle three times on fourth-down plays, sacking Russell Wilson twice and rushing for 190 yards, with Jamaal Charles churning for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

Raiders head coach Tony Sparano said this week that Kansas City presents significant challenges. He said the Raiders “will be taxed” to beat the Chiefs because in every area – offense, defense, special teams – Kansas City is formidable.

“They’re an explosive team and they play real good defense, obviously, with two good rushers out there – one guy that’s got a ton of sacks. They’ve got a great front – a big, physical bunch of guys. They get after you pretty good and I know their defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and he brings a lot of different exotic pressures. … They’ll come after us. They’ll challenge us a bunch there.”

Defensive end Justin Houston leads the NFL in sacks with 12, and tackle Dontari Poe – dominant vs. the run – also has five sacks. Linebacker Tamba Hali, meanwhile, is one of the most active in the NFL.

On paper, at least, it seems impossible that the Raiders will be able to run the ball. Oakland is last in the NFL in rushing. The only hope is that Latavius Murray, who looked good in a brief role vs. the Chargers last week, gets more opportunities Thursday night and makes the most of his chance.

On defense, the Raiders are 27th against the run, which also spells trouble. Charles, Knile Davis and De’Anthony Thomas give Kansas City a stable of good backs who can dominate a game.

Charles, in particular, has had success vs. the Raiders. He had 128 yards from scrimmage in a 24-7 victory over Oakland last October, then had 215 yards – including 195 and four TDs on receptions – in a 56-31 win in December.

Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr said the Chiefs defense gives the offense plenty to think about over just three days of preparation.

“There’s a lot for every quarterback to get ready for, especially with  talented defense like Kansas City has,” he told reporters this week. “It just puts more on your plate and you just knock it out in the time that we do have.”

NFL oddsmakers have made the Chiefs 7- to 8-point favorites over the Raiders, who have now lost 16 in a row dating to November of 2013.

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