When: Sunday, January 2, 2011, Noon kickoff (CT).
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Broadcast: TV – CBS: Announcers Spero Dedes and Randy Cross; DirecTV channel 708
Radio: SIRIUS – 91 (OAK) 154 (KCC); XM – 108 (KCC). Chiefs’ radio network
So how much does this Chiefs game really mean this weekend? I thought about beginning my column just talking about how surprised I was to actually type the correct year in the game data above.
But now our superstar offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis, is expected to announce that he’s leaving to take the same job at the University of Florida on Monday. The local media is whipping up a bad daytime soap opera story dissecting the relationship between Weis, Matt Cassel, and Head Coach Todd Haley. Finally, several deserving Chiefs were left off the Pro Bowl roster for the AFC, and even though players will spout the “company line” about how it doesn’t matter – it DOES matter in their heads.
Add in the fact that the players still haven’t forgotten gagging away a win on the road against the Raiders in overtime in Week 9, and that the Chiefs can wrap up the #3 seed in the AFC playoffs with a win, and I get a feeling that you will see a highly-motivated team run out onto the field.
The Raiders would like to go undefeated in the division (they’re currently 5-0), and a win over the Chiefs would give them an 8-8 season record, their first non-losing season in years. So they should be motivated to come out and play well, also. Plus, as always in Oakland, there’s talk that head coach Tom Cable may be out of a job next week and a win would put pressure on the vampiric Al Davis to keep him.
(Quick aside: When I’ve become oversaturated with football, I’ve been playing my son’s X-Box this holiday weekend, and two of my favorite games are the “Left 4 Dead” series. I swear that every time one of those zombies rushes at me, it’s Al Davis. Creepy ….)
Here are the three things you should watch for during the game. If the Chiefs can do them, they’ll come home with a win:
- Do NOT let rookie Jacoby Ford hurt KC this time. The talented Raider rookie had his coming-out party against Brandon Flowers and KC’s special teams in Week 9 and was almost the sole reason the Raiders won. Oakland was dead in the water at half-time, but Ford returned the second-half kick-off 94 yards for a touchdown, and brutalized the KC secondary for 148 yards receiving on 6 catches. Being at home, I’m not quite so worried about the Chiefs defense, but the special teams scare me. If Ford is back on punts, Dustin Colquitt needs to angle the ball to the sidelines or out of bounds. Ryan Succop’s kick-offs will probably be high and short to limit Ford’s chances for long returns.
- Two Chiefs need to be record-setting on offense. Matt Cassel is only three touchdowns away from tying Hall-of-Famer Lenny Dawson’s single season touchdown pass record of 30 in 1964. Jamaal Charles sits just 53 yards behind the league leader in rushing, Arian Foster of Houston, and has publicly said that he would love to lead the league in rushing. Charles is also on the verge of breaking the great Jim Brown’s record of 6.4 yards per carry for a season for a running back with at least 1,100 yards rushing. Both men would love to set new marks on Sunday against the Chiefs most hated rival.
- Keep the penalty flags in the referee’s pocket. It’s no coincidence that the two worst games of the year for the Chiefs picking up crazy/stupid penalties were in the first Raiders game and last week’s Titans game. Both of those teams try to bully their opponents and get into their heads. The opposition loses focus and makes atypical mistakes. If the Chiefs get more than six penalties on Sunday, they’ll be playing into the Raiders hands. With nothing to play for other than pride, the Raiders would love to get under Kansas City’s skin.
My Prediction: In a nice way, there really isn’t any pressure on the Chiefs this week. I think the Weis distraction will cause the offense to rally, and the defense wants nothing more than getting another shot at the Raiders offense without RB Darren McFadden, who could miss the game with an injury. My head tells me that this will be another close Chiefs/Raiders game and KC will triumph 21-17.
My heart tells me that KC will not lose to the Raiders on a day when former head coach, Marty Schottenheimer, is being honored and put into the Chiefs HOF. Five decades worth of former players will be on hand, and they all HATE the Raiders. Well, most of them do. The Chiefs come out smoking-hot, the Raiders will fold by halftime, and the Chiefs get ready for the playoffs with a 38-14 win.
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