The Oakland Raiders travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 15 action. The AFC West rivals met at O.co Coliseum only a few weeks ago, matching up on Thursday Night Football. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs 24-20 for their first win of the season.
When the two teams faced off November 20, the Chiefs were on a five-game win streak. This time, the Chiefs are in a bit of a slump, dropping the last three.
Meanwhile, the Silver and Black are coming off an intense cross-bay rivalry match-up with the 49ers that resulted in the Raiders second win of the season. Now, they are looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since 2012, as well as notch their first road win of 2014.
"It's huge," said TE Mychal Rivera, who had his best game as a Raider against the 49ers with 109 yards and a touchdown. "We're looking ahead and we're looking for this next game and we're looking for that road win."
Game action photos from the Raiders 24-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 12 action.
Arrowhead Stadium is one of the loudest places to play. The Raiders expect a motivated Chiefs squad and a loud fan base when they take the field Sunday. "Playing in Arrowhead is always tough. Playing in there at this time of year is tough," said Interim Head Coach Tony Sparano. "Knowing that we won the game the last time we played them, we know that they're going to be 100 percent ready for us when we walk into their place, their building. Our football team needs to concentrate on us and we need to concentrate on going down there and trying to stack a couple wins together here. It's something we haven't been able to do, to go into a visiting stadium and win a ball game like that and put some of these other demons to rest, so to speak."
The noise can impact a visiting offense, but QB Derek Carr feels prepared and confident in his unit. "It's something that you practice, like your silent cadences and different hand signals and different things like that just to make sure that we can execute at a high pace, high level," said Carr. "I thought that, especially in Seattle, I thought we did a good job in and out of the huddle. That's something that we have to do this week. We have to get back in and out of the huddle really good, really quick with a good tempo. We've got to play with a good tempo because the noise can be a factor, especially if you let it. For us, we've just got to do the best that we can in preparing for it."
The offense will once again have the challenge of DT Dontari Poe and LBs Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. "They have a great defense," said RB Latavius Murray. "That front seven is definitely going to be a tough match-up, but we had them a couple of weeks ago, so we just want to build off that. Go up there, handle them up front and run the ball from our aspect of it, and just have some success there. I think it's going to be a challenge, but a challenge we're willing to take."
When the two teams played in Week 12, the Raiders offensive line handled the Chiefs defense fairly well, allowing only one sack and helping spring Murray for over 100 yards on just four carries. Poe respects the talent the Raiders offense has up front.
"They're real good," said Poe. "They work real good together and they know their schemes quite well, and they know how to get hands on you and stuff like that. They're pretty good."
Poe has also been impressed with Murray. "He's real good – fast, explosive, finds the hole real well," said the Chiefs defensive tackle. "We've got to kind of put a hat on him and then try to keep him out of each hole."
QB Derek Carr has been fantastic in the Raiders two wins over the past three weeks, both performances earning him Rookie of the Week nominations. The win against the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football required an end-of-the-game touchdown drive, in which Carr led his squad 80 yards in 17 plays, culminating in a 9-yard touchdown pass to WR James Jones for the go-ahead score.
Despite the success, Carr knows the talent of the defense he's about to face for a second time. "Obviously I know how physical they are, we played them, I know how I felt after that game and I know what to expect," said Carr. "A very physical defense, nothing but props to them. They're talented all over the place."
Even the Raiders defenders have taken note of the impact players on the Chiefs defensive side. "I think he's a great athlete," said DT Justin Ellis on Poe. "I think he moves well to be a big guy. I think he pushes the pocket well, a good run stopper. I think coming into the NFL, a lot of people didn't recognize him. They just thought he was one of the Combine guys and so he's doing well now. I think he was underestimated and that's kind of like what my situation is."
Poe has five sacks so far this season and although Ellis hasn't put up those kinds of numbers, he's been a force on the Raiders defensive line.
Last time the Raiders faced the Chiefs, they recorded two sacks and added another six tackles for loss. Ellis and his teammates hope to bring the same kind of pressure against QB Alex Smith this week. "With him, right when you think you can rush him and get him, he'll throw a screen, so you just have to keep that stuff in mind too," said Ellis. "He's going to give you his best shot this game because it's hard to beat a team twice, a quarterback like that too."
Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver is making sure his defense remembers and respects the type of quarterback they will be facing. "A great young man – very smart. One thing about Alex is he can hurt you with his feet and his arm and his decision making. You have to be right. You've got to do your job whether it's a front-end or a back-end," said Coach Tarver. "Where we've improved on our defense is rush and coverage working together. We've got to be on point, rush and coverage working together, to hold down explosive plays, because there's some good space players on this next football team and we've got to make sure we're correct working together – angles form the outside in."
Smith still hasn't tossed a touchdown pass to a Chiefs wide receiver, but their wideouts still pose a threat on offense, particularly Dwayne Bowe. "I think he's a big, physical receiver, very talented," said CB TJ Carrie on Bowe. "They find good ways for him to get the ball and they put him in good situations, so you always have to be keen on where he's at and knowing the down and distance and what formation he can be in to execute his route concepts."
The defense will also pay close attention to RB Jamaal Charles if he is healthy enough to play (he didn't practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday). Charles has 14 total touchdowns (9 rushing, 5 receiving) with 898 rushing yards and 234 receiving yards. The veteran player had 122 all-purpose yards and a touchdown when the Raiders hosted the Chiefs a few weeks ago.
Both the Raiders offense and defense will try to put together a complete game like they did against the 49ers in Week 14. Additionally, the special teams unit will have to play sound when they match up with a Chiefs group that has been successful throughout the season.
"This game is going to be a big game special teams-wise," said Coach Sparano. "On paper right now, it's a big advantage to Kansas City and we're aware of that. So, they have their return units are all ranked I think in every category in the top five, but top 10 for sure. I would say top five in several. We're aware of that, our team is aware of that and we're trying to make and take the appropriate steps here as we go forward."
The Raiders are looking forward to this week's game. "I enjoy going to somebody else's home and beating them or playing them," said Ellis. "It's going to be a great environment. I've never been there. Everybody talks about it, so it's going to be a good deal."
The Chiefs host the Silver and Black at 10:00 a.m. PT at Arrowhead Stadium. Watch the game on CBS, listen on 95.7 The GAME, and follow along on Raiders.com, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.