By Ryan Leong
This has been the most difficult season for the Kansas City Chiefs in franchise history. The team was already struggling last year under former head coach Todd Haley. It’s only gotten worse for general manager Scott Pioli and current coach Romeo Crennel.
But they do have one weapon in running back Jamaal Charles, who has three consecutive 100-yard rushing games. Charles, who leads the AFC with 1,220 rushing yards, ran for 127 in Kansas City’s 27-21 victory over Carolina one day after the Jovan Belcher incident. The week before that it was a 107-yard effort in a loss to Denver, and he had a whopping 165 yards against the Browns including an 80-yard touchdown in a 30-7 defeat to Cleveland. The last time Charles ran for 100-yards in four straight games was the final four weeks of the 2009 season.
The Chiefs have the No. 5 rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 149.2 yards per game for 13 games. The Raiders have allowed 131.2 yards per game and are No. 29 in rushing defense. It’s likely the Chiefs will use primarily a ground game especially with the absence of wide receiver Dwyane Bowe, who is out for this game suffering from broken ribs. Bowe was the team’s leading receiver with 801 yards on 59 receptions. In a distant second place is Tony Moeaki, who has 396 yards on 28 catches.
This is a good opportunity for veteran receiver Steve Breaston to finally get involved. Last year, Breaston caught 61 passes for the Chiefs but this season he has been inactive for four of his last five games and has only seven catches for 74 yards.
A year ago at this time, Pioli fired Todd Haley after a 27-point loss on the road that dropped the Chiefs to 5-8 on the season. They wish they had that record now as the team is just 2-11. With Haley has head coach, the Chiefs’ record was 19-27, .413 winning percentage. Under Crennel, it’s a bleak 4-12, .250. This year, eight of those 11 losses are by double digits. The largest margin of defeat has been 28 points.
The AFC-West rivals meet Sunday in Oakland for the 108th time between the teams. The Chiefs have faced the Raiders more than any other team in franchise history. This game will be the 52nd regular-season meeting in Oakland/Los Angeles.
Kansas City owns a 55-50-2 (.514) overall record against Oakland, including a 53-49-2 mark in the regular season. On the road, the series is currently tied (25-25-1)
The Chiefs have had great success at the Oakland Coliseum since the Raiders returned to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995. Kansas City is 12-5 at the Coliseum, including a 28-0 shutout of the Raiders last season. They are 8-2 in the last 10 years at Oakland.
Regardless of the records of the two teams, Chiefs right tackle Eric Winston said it best about the storied rivalry.
“It’s pretty special. I think it’s special to everyone in this building. I know it’s special to everyone out there in Oakland. When you think of Oakland, you think tough, physical team. We’re going to have to match it and probably surpass that to get a win.”
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.