SS Matt Giordano intercepts a pass against the Chiefs in Kansas City in 2011. Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Raiders travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in an AFC West rivalry game in Week 8 of the 2012 Regular Season. The Silver and Black has won five straight games at Kansas City dating back to the 2007 season, marking the longest road winning streak in the all-time series for the Raiders. They head into the game looking for their first road win and first division win of the 2012 campaign.
The team knows that playing in Arrowhead Stadium is a challenge. "I think it's a great environment to play in," said Head Coach Dennis Allen. "It's a tough arena. They've traditionally played very well there. I look forward to going there and playing at their place because I think it's a good environment for football."
The Raiders are preparing for the hostile environment. "That's one of the loudest venues I've been to," said offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. "It's one of the loudest outdoor venues I've been to. Their fan base is really into it. That's why we work crowd noise here. It can become very loud there."
Despite the challenge, the Raiders are looking forward to the rivalry match up. "It's a division game, so it's always big," said WR Darrius Heyward-Bey. "Right now we're 0-2 in our division. If we can go out here and get a win that will be big for us to reach one of our goals, and that's to win the AFC West."
The Chiefs will be coming off a bye week, leaving them well-rested headed into Sunday's game. "It's a very gifted group and very talented group that's desperate for a win coming off a bye," said QB Carson Palmer. "It is going to be an extremely physical game. We have got our minds set for that and we are ready for that, but it is going to be a battle, a four-quarter battle."
The Raiders offense will face tough pass rushers and former teammate CB Stanford Routt. "It's going to be fun," said Heyward-Bey on facing Routt. "There's going to be a lot of competition from training camp back in the day. At the end of the day it's just football, and we've got to play against Kansas City."
Although Palmer did not have a lot of experience facing Routt in practice last season, he's watched the film and is aware of the Routt and the rest of the Chiefs secondary's talent. "He has looked pretty good," said Palmer on Routt. "It's a good secondary. Like I said, they've got Eric Berry back there. [Brandon] Flowers is a really good physical corner and Stanford can run with just about anybody in the league. It is a good group all around."
Despite a 1-5 record, the Chiefs are still in the top half of the league in defense. "From a defensive standpoint, these guys really fly to the ball," said Coach Knapp. "They had a tough game against Tampa Bay, but outside of that you see 11 hats go to the ball. They've got good athletic speed. They're very talented. They've got six first-round picks on the starting 11 on defense. I see a very talented defense."
Meanwhile, G Mike Brisiel and his offensive line are preparing to face pass rushers Tamba Hali, Dontari Poe, and Justin Houston. "They're a great defense," said Brisiel. "They have a lot of first-round talent. You know they've got the talent up there. We know that it's going to be a challenge. Each snap we've got to bring our A-game and start fast."
Having faced the Chiefs as a coach in Denver last year, Coach Allen is familiar with the challenge they present on defense. "They've got a couple of really good pass rushers," said Coach Allen. "[Justin] Houston is also a very good pass rusher. So it's some tough match ups. It presents some challenges and we have to understand where they are, especially on passing situations, and make sure we're able to give our quarterback time to throw the ball and execute in the passing game."
The offensive line wants to do a better job of opening up the run game and protecting Palmer. "I think you've got to be consistent with what you do," said Brisiel. "We're just going to keep working at it. You've got to be committed to it, and let the chips fall where they may."
Palmer will also have to be prepared for the pass rushers. "It's a really good front seven, big physical front seven with a safety that was a top-five draft pick that went to a Pro Bowl his rookie year that's now coming back," said Palmer. "It is an in-division game. It's a big time rivalry and it means a lot to that city. It obviously means a lot to the Raider Nation, so their fans will be ready for us. It is not going to be nice and quiet and easy. They are going to make it difficult on us."
At the end of the day, Palmer says the game will come down to a few factors. "Turnovers," said Palmer. "We have got to win the turnover battle, field position, a number of things. Any time it is a rivalry game, a division game, there is a number of factors that come in to play like stopping the run. They are one of the best running teams in the league. They have also turned the ball over a lot. Hopefully we can stop the run and get some turnovers. Then we have to be productive in the red zone."
The defense will contend with a rushing attack ranked third in the NFL, led by RB Jamaal Charles. "He's a great player," said LB Miles Burris. "We've just got to go out there and prepare the best we can. We've got to be on the same page mentally, and trust the guy next to him and make trust that he's going to do his job."
Charles is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, totaling 115 carries for 591 yards. "He's definitely growing into one of the better backs in the NFL," said SS Mike Mitchell. "I really look at him like a track guy that's pretty good at playing football. He's very fast, he's the fastest back we're going to face, and he has great vision. We need to set the edges and don't let him bounce it outside. We've got to force it up inside to Tommy Kelly, Richard Seymour, and Rolando McClain. We've got to make it that type of game for him, and see how tough he is. He's a great back. If he hits a crease, you've seen it, he's going to put his head down and it's going to be a footrace. Usually he wins that."
Part of Charles' success has come from the productivity of the Chiefs offensive line. "He's really fast and the offensive line does a good job of working together," said defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. "They do a good job of figuring out where you are and working together to get on guys and pushing them either past the hole or around them. Jamaal trusts his linemen. He's fast and he can slip through a little crack, so they do a good job of working together. That offensive line, traditionally and over the years, they do a good job."
If the Raiders can slow down Charles, they hope to have an easier time containing QB Brady Quinn who is starting his second game at quarterback with the Chiefs. "He's a smart quarterback," said Coach Allen. "He's big; he's strong. He's got a strong arm. He's got athleticism. I think Brady has grown as a quarterback as the years have gone on. I think he's gotten better and better. I think as he continues to fill that role that he'll continue to get better as a player."
Although Quinn does not have extensive experience starting in the NFL, he's still a threat in the Kansas City offense. "He's a strong-armed, muscular quarterback with some ability to run the football," said Mitchell. "He's been in the League a while now, so he's got some experience. We're going to have to do a good job of challenging and eliminate that facet of their offense. We need to stop the run and force them to pass. I think if we're able to do that it'll play into our hands and what we want."
The Raiders are disregarding the Chiefs record when they head into Arrowhead Stadium. "Any game you play, you're always desperate to get a win," said DT Richard Seymour. "You can throw records out when it's the Chiefs against the Raiders given the history. No matter what's going on, it's always hard-fought, tough physical football game. I don't expect anything less this Sunday. We have a lot of respect for them. They run the ball really well. They've got a lot of good players on that side. I think they're well-coached. It's a hostile environment, a tough place to play, so we'll definitely have to bring our own."