The Raiders are set to face the Chiefs for the second time in a month, after getting their first win of the season against them. Now the Raiders head to their house, so now it's once again time to check in with Joel Thorman of SB Nation Chiefs blog, Arrowhead Pride, to get the skinny on the bitter Raiders rival.
1. What does the playoff picture look like for the Chiefs? Would a loss to the Raiders Sunday be the nail in their proverbial coffin?
A loss to the Raiders would pretty much end the Chiefs chances of making the playoffs. There would still be scenarios where they could get in but no one would be counting on that if they lost to Oakland. The Chiefs need to win out to make the playoffs. They're fortunate that they play two AFC teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race - Pittsburgh and San Diego - in the final two weeks of the season. The Chiefs have put together a five-game winning streak this season so we know they're capable of winning three in a row ... although it's hard to predict that after seeing the same team lose their last three games.
2. Do you expect Tamba Hali, Jamaal Charles, and Anthony Fasano to play? How crucial are they?
Yes I expect them all to play. Tamba Hali has had some limited practices here and there this season as a nine-year veteran but I expect him to be out there on Sunday playing nearly every snap. Jamaal Charles is obviously so important to the Chiefs offense so on the one hand it wouldn't surprise me if they tried to take it easier with him this week. On the other hand, this is essentially a must-win so the Chiefs don't have time to wait. If Charles is healthy enough to play, he needs to play a full load. Anthony Fasano, meanwhile, has been dealing with a knee injury for a few weeks now. He has played the last couple of weeks but it has been Travis Kelce who has seen the most snaps at tight end. Chiefs fans will tell you that Kelce seeing more snaps than Fasano is a good thing considering how efficient Kelce is in the passing game. All three players are important but Charles' absence would be the only one that would cause a drastic change to what they're doing.
3. The Raiders got their first win of the season against the Chiefs, and they did it largely on the ground, starting with Latavius Murray and finishing with Marcel Reece. Do you think the Chiefs will be ready for that this time? How have they done against the run since then?
That game really pushed the Chiefs run defense issues to the forefront and the Chiefs defense has done nothing to show they've learned from that in the past three weeks. They gave up big yards to the Broncos two weeks ago and 100 yards to a Cardinals player who was activated from the practice squad three days before the game. So, yeah, the run defense is still a problem. The Chiefs have to know that the Raiders are going to try to run, run and run some more on them. I'm not sure the Chiefs can stop it though.
4. Overall, have the Chiefs improved and/or gotten more healthy since they faced the Raiders three weeks ago or have they regressed and/or are more banged up?
They are regressing since the Raiders game. They lost two more games after that game, albeit to top AFC and NFC teams in the Broncos and Cardinals. Jamaal Charles was injured and missed some snaps last week so he's certainly not healthier. The offensive line, particularly Mike McGlynn, has struggled to give Alex Smith enough time. And speaking of Smith, he hasn't been part of the solution either. The Chiefs regression is really more of a team effort than anyone person. They're all failing.
5. The Chiefs are having some offensive line issues. Give us a quick rundown of what's going on there and what you expect the Raiders to do based on what teams have been doing to take advantage of those Oline problems.
We ran a poll asking for the Chiefs biggest problem right now and more than half of the votes were for the offensive line. LT Eric Fisher has gotten better but is still prone to pass protection mistakes. There is a reason G Mike McGlynn was eligible to be signed the week before the season. The Chiefs seemingly almost made a change at right tackle recently but ended up sticking with Ryan Harris. There are just too many players on the offensive line not playing. Pass protection is their biggest problem right now. The Raiders did the best thing they could in stopping the Chiefs last time -- they got an early lead. That led to the Chiefs passing more, which is not their strength nor the strength of the offensive line. It also led to Jamaal Charles seeing less touches in the second half (17 in the first half, six in the second half). That's the formula to beat the Chiefs.
To see my answers to his questions, click here.
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