NFL Wire News

Week 15 Preview: Raiders at Chiefs

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Oakland Raiders (2-11) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

*Keys to the game: Backup RB Knile Davis will prepare for more work and possibly a start as Jamaal Charles (ankle) works through his latest ding, but the Chiefs are much more concerned about the recent trend of no-name running backs carving through their defense. While Kansas City is trained in operating without Charles on occasion, not getting off the field on third downs is dogging a defense that had excelled in that area for the first half of the season.

The Raiders will throw six blockers and a downhill running game at Kansas City and test the Chiefs’ mettle early in the game. Big plays from RB Latavius Murray (6.5 yards per carry), who had a 90-yard TD run against K.C. three weeks ago, open passing lanes for rookie QB Derek Carr. Carr was cautious yet effective in his first game against this defense, averaging under 5 yards per pass attempt.

Third downs are haunting QB Alex Smith and the Chiefs’ offense of late, with three or fewer conversions in four of the past five games, including 2 of 14 in the “Thursday Night Football” loss at Oakland Nov. 20. The Raiders commit an extra defender to clog cutback lanes – also a boon in defending the Chiefs’ middle screen game — and dare Smith to throw outside the hashes.

*Matchup to watch – Chiefs LT Eric Fisher vs. Raiders OLB Khalil Mack: Mack is up to three sacks but playing better than the numbers indicate, as exhibited by the extra attention he is getting from blocking schemes. Fisher is far from perfect on the blind side. These two players drafted in the top five the past two years could be in for a decade-long duel.

*Player spotlight – Chiefs WR Jason Avant: He’s getting more work and could soon be the sixth receiver to start opposite Dwayne Bowe as the Chiefs strain for the right combination of outside targets.

*Fast facts: The Chiefs have had 488 pass attempts since a wide receiver last caught a touchdown pass (Dec. 8, 2013, Bowe). … The Raiders have won six of the past seven meetings in Kansas City.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Kansas City snaps a three-game losing streak by opening up the offense and forcing the Raiders to play catch-up.

*Our pick: Chiefs 25-17


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