By Abraham Gutierrez
With the end of the 2015 NFL regular season fast approaching, the (5-6) Oakland Raiders must capitalize on every opportunity as it presents itself in order to have a shot at the postseason. In Week 13, Jack Del Rio and the Silver and Black will have a chance to make up some ground in the AFC West when the surging Kansas City Chiefs enter the East Bay. O.co Coliseum will be witness to one of the oldest and most bitter NFL rivalries.
Chiefs Season So Far
After a rather pedestrian start, the (6-5) Kansas City Chiefs have kicked it into high gear, entering Week 13 winners of five straight ballgames. In the process, they have climbed back into contention in the AFC West, as they currently trail the division-leading (9-2) Denver Broncos by three games in the win column.
The surging Chiefs come in with a 3-2 record at home and 3-3 on the road. Kansas City is also tied with the Broncos with a 2-1 record against AFC West foes, but are only 1-3 against non-conference teams. Andy Reid’s team has hit its stride, and much of their success can be credited to this offense.
Chiefs On Offense
Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Doug Pederson is a man who once upon a time served as Brett Favre’s backup with the Green Bay Packers. His experience at that position doesn’t necessarily mean that would transfer over to his unit. In fact, Kansas City’s passing game happens to be the weakest link of this year’s offense, as they start Week 13 ranked 24th in the NFL averaging 227 yards per game. Naturally, with an anemic passing attack, it comes as no surprise that the other problem area for this team can be found in the category of total yards per game (351.3), where they rank 16th in the league.
Having that said, the Chiefs feature of the best running games in the entire league, thus, they have no problem lighting up the scoreboard. With 12 weeks in the books, the Chiefs are the fifth highest-scoring team in the league (26.1 ppg), and feature the sixth-best rushing attack in all of football at 124.3 yards per game.
Chiefs On Defense
Defense is where this team hangs its hat, which shouldn’t surprise anyone considering former Army head coach Bob Sutton is the defensive coordinator. Under his tutelage, Kansas City ranks in the top-10 in three of the four major statistical categories, and in the other, they are 11th in the entire league.
Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense better brace themselves for a dogfight, as the Chiefs “D” is seventh in the league in points per game (20.0) and eighth in rushing yards per game (95.9). Oakland’s high-flying offense might have a tough time getting going in this one, as this unit is 10th in the NFL in total yards allowed (335.4) and 11th at defending the pass (239.5).
Players To Watch
Offensively, quarterback Alex Smith has done a tremendous job of not letting things get away from him in spite of this team’s dreadful 1-5 start. However, the Chiefs rushing attack is certainly the main reason why defensive coordinators lose sleep when preparing to face this team. That’s why running back Charcandrick West (373 yards on 98 carries and 3 TDs) is a player to watch along with Alex Smith (303 yards on 55 carries, TD), who’s the team’s third-leading rusher, and Spencer Ware (234 yards on 36 carries and 4 TD), who’s also made an impact.
Defensively, the Raiders’ O-line better be prepared for their stiffest test of the season, as Kansas City comes in tied for fifth-best in the NFL in the sacks department (30 sacks). The defensive players to watch is another trio of big-play threats, as Del Rio and his staff must, at all times, account for outside linebackers Justin Houston (7.5 sacks, 30 tackles, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble) and Tamba Hali (6.5 sacks, 35 tackles and 2 forced fumbles), along with defensive end Allen Bailey (4.5 sacks, 31 tackles, 2 forced fumbles).
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.