December 28th, 2002. The Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs 24-0 in Oakland, only to go on to the Superbowl, but fell on their face 48-21 against former head coach Jon Gruden to start their 24-78 nosedive.
The Raiders overall record facing KC since 2001 is 5-14. Three of those wins have come in the past three seasons. And all three wins were at Arrowhead Stadium. Before that they were win-less at Arrowhead for five seasons dating back to September 9th, 2001.
The Chargers may be the most recent Raider nemesis with their 13 straight wins over them (tied for the longest streak in football for one team over another), but at one time the Chiefs had the Raiders’ number as well. And the Raiders haven’t swept the Chiefs in a season for nine years.
Will that change this Sunday? The Raiders are actually favored for once (+2), and it could be because the Raiders will get key players back this week , or it could be because the Chiefs, under new head coach Todd Haley, are 1-7 this year. I’ll take the latter on that one.
The offensive line for the Raiders will finally be at full strength since the season opening loss to the Chargers at home, and will (hopefully) have their ‘star’ receiver back in Chaz Schilens. They issued a press release prior to week 6 to say he was coming back against the Jets, only to see him to re-aggravate his ankle and sit out the remainder of the first half of the season.
Schilens says he is not at 100% yet, but will try and play through the pain if possible. Raiders could use all the help they can get, mainly because they are 32nd in the league in total offense. No one is quite sure how much Schilens or McFadden will play or what their roles will be because Cable has wisely done his best to seal his lips on that regard.
The Chiefs are 28th in the league in run defense followed by the Raiders who are 29th, so with a healthy offensive line maybe the Raiders can get back to their bread and butter. Which should open up opportunities for JaMarcus Russell and the receivers with play-action if they can command 8 in the box.
The Chiefs also have had trouble defensing the pass (30th), so even with two inexperienced receivers, there should be some good looks for Russell. At which point, it will all depend on if he can execute. This game should be his best. Another iffy performance could sit him again, but we all know who has the real authority on that decision.
On defense for the Raiders, defensive end Greg Ellis might not suit up for the game. If he can’t practice on Friday, rookie Matt Shaughnessy may get his first NFL start.
KC’s offense will be without Larry Johnson, who was released after some questionable comments to reporters after a loss two weeks ago that got him banned from the facility. However, that doesn’t mean Kolby Smith won’t go over the century mark. Raiders must get better at LB if they are going to stop anyone. Just because Kirk Morrison is fifth in the league in tackles, doesn’t mean he is in the top 20 for middle linebackers in the NFL.
Eight years straight, the Raiders closed at home against the Chiefs. That should be some extra motivation to win this game, as if a 2-6 sinking record wasn’t enough reason. Not beating this team could result in another mid-season head coaching fire from Al Davis, who already has enough ’cause’ with the recent allegations of a Cable’s history of violence towards woman.
Raider Nation Speaks
If you have yet to see TFDS’ own Pattrick Patterson’s article about a petition against Al Davis from the Raider nation, check it out. It is starting to gain some momentum and will only get more signatures as the losses and questionable decisions continue to pile up in Oakland. If you’re upset over the Raiders misfortunes and are looking to get the message across to Al Davis, this is your chance.
– AJ DeMello, TFDS Guest Contributor