CB Chris Johnson (37) logged an interception in the Raiders home game against the Chiefs last season. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Oakland Raiders host division rival Kansas City this Sunday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. They will be challenging a Chiefs squad that comes into Week 9 at the top of the division. "They're having a heck of a year and they're finding ways to win games," said Head Coach Tom Cable. "They don't turn it over. They do a good job of taking it away. They're playing really good football right now. As we continue to improve, it should be a heck of a game."
Kansas City Head Coach Todd Haley is not surprised by the Raiders current success as the Silver and Black plays for its third consecutive win. "I've thought for a number of years Oakland has never been a team you want to play or look forward to play, even in the years that they haven't been able to win a bunch of games," said Haley. "This year obviously they're having success in a number of different areas and I think you're starting to see that team show a little more of what you thought it was."
The Chiefs are taking note of the strong play the Raiders have exhibited both on offense and defense. "I think they're playing really hard on defense," said Chiefs RB Thomas Jones. "I think they have some good veteran guys over there that have been around for a long time. I think they're playing really comfortable on defense right now, from the film I've seen. They just look like they're playing well together." Jones also noted the dominant play of RB Darren McFadden. "I think he's a great back," said Jones. "He has great speed, great vision. He can catch the ball really well. He's a great all-around back."
While Jones and the Chiefs spent the week evaluating the Raiders, the Silver and Black studied Kansas City's tendencies to be fully prepared for the match up on Sunday. The Chiefs have seen significant improvement in their offensive line and a top-ranked run game. "I really think they're playing well up front," said Coach Cable. "To me, that's as improved a group as I've seen on tape from last year. All five guys working together. They have some power aspects in the game, some zone aspects in the game, some draw aspects. [RB Jamaal] Charles is playing his tail off and they are blocking for him up front."
As a complement to Charles, Jones has rushed for 538 yards and three touchdowns so far this season. "Thomas Jones, he's a beast, a vet, great shape, runs hard, runs low, real good stiff arm, still has speed to take it to the house," said DT Tommy Kelly. "This is definitely a game you have to put your big boy pants on for this week."
Rookie DE Lamarr Houston is ready for the offensive challenge the Chiefs bring to the table. "They have a lot of speed," said Houston. "I went to school with Jamaal; he likes to get out to the edge fast. They have [RB Dexter] McCluster; he can get on the edge fast. They have a lot of good skill guys, at tight end, the rookie tight end and then [WR] Dwayne Bowe. They have a lot of options and they scheme really well."
The Raiders offense has been preparing for a much improved Kansas City defense that currently ranks 16th in the NFL (after ranking 30th in 2009). "I just think that they are real sound," said Coach Cable. "They give you some pressures; they give you something new every week that way. They're similar to us in that they're all playing hard together. I think that's what's showing up more than anything because it is really 90 percent the same people. You've got Derrick Johnson back in playing linebacker. To me, it's just they're playing together, I don't know that you saw that the last year or two."
Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson knows the match up with the Chiefs defense will be a challenge, but feels the Raiders offense is prepared. "They're a good defensive football team. They're well coached," said Coach Jackson. "[Defensive Coordinator] Romeo [Crennel] does a great job with their defensive football team. They have good players. Derrick Johnson is playing as well any linebacker in football in my opinion. Tamba Hali, I mean come on the guy's one of the best pass rushers in football. They've got great corners. They have two very good, young safeties. Our players have to understand that we have to go attack and get it done and I think that our guys are wired in, they're focused and excited to play."
T Langston Walker knows the Raiders offensive line is prepared. "We're pretty confident in our own abilities," said Walker. "If we go out there, run the ball well, protect our quarterback, and play quality football, we'll be all right."
With the team geared up and excited for the rivalry game, the Raiders look to win their third in a row, reach a 5-4 record, and go undefeated in the division halfway through the season. The Raiders will play the Chiefs at 1:15 p.m. PT this coming Sunday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Follow the action live on Raiders.com, the **Raiders Facebook page**, and **Twitter**.