The Oakland Raiders travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in Week 6 action. The division rivals both have streaks they wish to extend, the Chiefs looking to win six in a row to stay undefeated and the Raiders trying to win seven straight at Arrowhead Stadium.
The two AFC West foes have a storied history having met 105 times since 1960. The Chiefs hold a slim all-time lead with a record of 53-50-2.
Kansas City has entered into a different era with a new coach, Andy Reid, and a new quarterback, Alex Smith. Both have extensive experience in the league and have helped the Chiefs reach a 5-0 record after a disappointing 2-14 season in 2012.
"We know that the team we're going to play is an outstanding football team, 5-0, and they're 5-0 for a reason," said Head Coach Dennis Allen. "We know it's a great challenge and we're looking forward to going and competing, and seeing where we're at."
The Raiders are coming off a late night 27-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers at O.co Coliseum. The Silver and Black's impressive first half began with the Raiders first interception of the 2013 season, which led to four other turnovers.
"It felt great. We've been wanting that interception for awhile and to go four weeks without one, it was like, 'come on, we're seeing too many teams get interceptions, get forced fumbles, and get tipped balls,'" said Young. "To finally start it off and then they piled up; we got a couple more later in the game; it was big. We set the tone early and that's what we're looking to do this week. We have to set the tone, we have to be physical, and we want to take the ball away."
The Raiders defense will face a Chiefs offense that has only turned the ball over five times through five games. A lot of that has to do with the efficiency of their quarterback. "I think he's done a great job of running that offense," said Coach Allen. "He's very efficient in how he runs the offense. He doesn't turn the ball over. He makes good decisions in the passing game, so they've done exactly what they've needed to do. They do a great job of not having negative plays, staying on schedule, moving the chains."
Young knows his defensive unit will have to play smart to match up with Smith's offense. "He's been winning and he knows how to win and he knows how to get the ball out of his hands," explained Young. "Every now and then he'll take a sack but he doesn't really throw into coverage too often. I don't know how many interceptions he's thrown, but I'm guessing it's not [many]. We have to play sound defense. We're going to have to play top down coverage and just be fundamentally sound when it comes to the game plan."
Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver has a plan to stop Smith, who he coached at the 49ers. "He does a good job of throwing the football where the coaches want him to and taking what the defense gives him," said Coach Tarver. "We need to make sure that we challenge in coverage, that we're tight when we're supposed to be tight, that we control the pocket how we want to because he does a great job of pulling the ball, feeling the pocket and taking off. Those are a little different playing this week versus playing last week — different type of quarterback. He'll get out of the pocket more. He can run. He can make throws when he's on the run, so we'll vary our looks accordingly."
Smith is aided in the backfield by Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles. "He can score from anywhere on the field. The guy has amazing speed," said LB Kevin Burnett, who led the team with 14 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack against the Chargers. "I don't think you can say enough about him. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He's really becoming a real weapon for the Chiefs."
The Chiefs quarterback also has weapons at wide receiver and tight end. The defense will have to key in on all positions. "They're a talented group, starting off with [Dwayne] Bowe. He's been doing it for a long time. He came into the league with me and he's a strong, strong receiver, fast receiver. He's got great hands. One of those guys that gets the jump balls a lot, vertical threat and he can catch the intermediate routes," said Young. "[Dexter] McCluster, he's a quick, quick receiver that does option routes and he's just an explosive threat as well. And [Donnie] Avery is one of the faster guys in the league so he's going to take the top off the offense. We have to prepare for all three. It's going to be a challenge."
Burnett has familiarity with TE Anthony Fasano who in his eighth NFL season. "Fasano is a very good football player," said Burnett. "I've been playing with him for probably about six years out of my nine in the league. He presents a lot of problems. He can run. He can run after the catch, can block. He really has been a complete tight end in this league for a long time."
The Chiefs have scored 14 touchdowns so far this season and held opponents to nine. "Bottom line is run, hit, tackle and force turnovers," said Burnett. "We've been able to do all of those and we've come up with a big game last week. We just need to continue doing the things we do well and improve on our mistakes."
The Raiders offense will face a Chiefs defense that has already recorded 21 sacks and rank 7th in the NFL in yards allowed per game. "Big challenge this week. It seems like we say this every week, but it's probably the best front seven we've played thus far," said offensive coordinator Greg Olson. "They were a talented group a year ago and now they're a talented group that's playing very well."
Coach Allen sees the strengths of the Chiefs defense on tape. "They're very talented. They have two guys on the edge in [Justin] Houston and Tamba Hali, both those guys are really good football players," said Coach Allen. "They play the run and the pass exceptionally well. Dontari Poe is really playing good as a nose [tackle]. Derrick Johnson's been an outstanding linebacker in this league, a guy that can run around, makes a lot of plays, makes a lot of tackles. I think they play a tough, physical brand of football. I think their secondary is really outstanding, so you have to execute and that's what it really boils down to. If we execute our plays, we'll have a chance. But it's going to be a tough game, especially for our offense against their defense."
Kansas City's defensive front, led by Hali, Houston (who may not be available Sunday) and Poe, require the Raiders offense to execute from the first snap. "Just stay true to our technique, stay on schedule. When you get off schedule, guys like that can pin their ears back and just worry about getting the quarterback and teeing off on him," explained FB Marcel Reece. "We have to worry about just ourselves, staying on schedule, and just stay true to our technique, and I think we'll be okay."
The Chiefs backfield is run by veterans and has recorded seven interceptions. "They have a couple of very good cornerbacks, No. 27 [Sean] Smith, he's like 6'3" and he's got a good amount of length and he's pretty good at jamming," said WR Rod Streater. "And then No. 24 [Brandon] Flowers is really athletic, he's good on the jam too. They've got some hard hitting safeties with [Eric] Berry back there so it's going to be a pretty big challenge for us to get off and beat man to man."
The Chiefs defense has given up the fewest points in the NFL through Week 5, which has helped lead them to a 5-0 record. Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor won't allow his team to dwell on those numbers, however. "The message that I relay to our offense is that they play sound ball, so we have to play sound ball. That doesn't mean that they're better than us because you never win a game on paper," said Pryor. "You never win by looking at a record. It's all about who goes out there and who is the more physical team. That's what we expect. We expect to battle. Are they a good team? Yeah. I think they have one of the best defenses in the NFL. I think it's going to be the best defense we play against all year. They have a tough team, but we're very tough too."
Playing an undefeated team before the bye week is motivation. Add the fact that it's a road game against division rival Kansas City and the Raiders are more than fired up. "It's Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium, which is always a fun and challenging atmosphere to play in, and it's a rivalry game," said Reece. "We're both good teams. They have a great record right now, top two in the NFL obviously, and we just want to go out there, show the world what we can do and make a statement in the AFC West.
"This is big. They're undefeated and we're trying to give them their first loss," added Young. "We're going to have to set the tone early, not let the crowd get the best of us because they're going to be into it; it's going to be loud in Arrowhead Stadium. I've been there before so I know how tough it is to play there. We're going to have to man up and play physical football."
Chiefs fans are attempting to break the Guinness Book of World Records noise record of 136.6 decibels. The Raiders players have two things to say about that – 1) Do not let the noise be a distraction. 2) Don't give the Chiefs fans a reason to cheer.
"I just think we have to work on our non-verbal communication and keep the crowd as quiet as possible," said Reece. "Once you jump on a team at home, when they're at home when you jump on them quickly and stay on them often, it takes the crowd out of the game. And then the advantage goes to us."
Catch the game at 10:00 a.m. PT on CBS (KPIX 5) or listen on 95.7 The GAME. You can also follow along on Raiders.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.