Raiders head to Kansas City for season finale

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — Quarterback Derek Carr and the Raiders look to spoil Kansas City’s chances at the AFC West crown when the Silver and Black travel to the Show Me State Sunday to take on the Chiefs in the season finale for both teams.

Oakland (7-8) can finish with a .500 record for the first time since 2011 with a win in Kansas City, where they have lost their last two trips to Arrowhead.

A .500 record would be great for Oakland, who have won a combined 11 games over the past three seasons.

Oakland is coming off a 23-20 overtime victory over the visiting San Diego Chargers in Week 16 behind Carr’s 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception performance.

It was Oakland’s last home game for the season, and potentially the last Raiders’ game in Oakland as the team is rumored to be heading to Los Angeles for the 2016 season.

The win for Oakland was great in what was safety Charles Woodson’s final home game. The 18-year veteran announced his retirement last week.

”Charles is one of the greatest players to ever put on a uniform,” coach Jack Del Rio said. ”He’s a great Raider. To be able to send him out the right way, to be able to cap off a special evening like this, our last home game of the year … I’m just really proud of the effort.”

Running back Latavius Murray carried the ball 19 times for 79 yards and a touchdown. The third-year running back from Central Florida leads the AFC in rushing with 1,035 yards and has become the bellcow for the Raiders.

Oakland’s defense had trouble generating a solid pass rush on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers for nearly three quarters, registering just one sack.

After starting the season 1-5, Kansas City (10-5) have been red hot winning their last nine in a row.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals have ever qualified for the playoffs after starting 1-5, until Kansas City clinched a playoff spot with a 17-13 home win against the Cleveland Browns in Week 16.

The Chiefs are seeking a franchise-record 10th straight victory, but want more.

With a win over their hated rivals from Oakland, coupled with a Chargers’ victory over the Broncos in Denver, Kansas City could win the AFC West title for the first time since 2010.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has been what head coach Andy Reid and Kansas City have hoped and then some in his first season with the team.

Maclin, who was voted to his first Pro Bowl this season, is having a monster season with 84 catches (one shy of his career-high set last season in Philadelphia), 1,034 yards, and seven touchdowns.

Kansas City didn’t have a wide receiver catch a touchdown all of last season. Maclin has caught a touchdown in four of the last five games for the Chiefs, including a pair of touchdowns against Oakland in Kansas City’s 34-20 Week 13 victory at Coliseum.

With Pro Bowl linebackers Justin Houston (hyperextended knee) and Tamba Hali (broken finger) sitting out last week, Kansas City failed to record a sack for the first time since Week 4.

Houston and Hali have combined for 14 of Kansas City’s 41 sacks this season, which are tied for fourth-most in the league this season.

Both players are day-to-day, but could suit up Sunday.

Kansas City have won four of the last five meetings, and forced the Raiders second-year signal caller into throwing three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.



Woodson, Raiders prep for Chargers in home finale

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

photo credit: KCRA TV Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson

OAKLAND — When Raiders safety Charles Woodson announced his retirement on Monday from the game of football after an illustrious 18-year career, it came as a shock since Woodson has been playing at high level for the Raiders this season.

On Tuesday, Woodson, along with linebacker Khalil Mack, and fullback Marcel Reece were selected to the Pro Bowl, as announced on the NFL Network during the network’s annual selection show.

Quarterback Derek Carr, rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper, and running back Latavius Murray are heading to Honolulu as well on Jan. 31, 2016 after being selected as Pro Bowl alternates for the first time in their young careers.

It marks the ninth time that Woodson has been voted to the Pro Bowl, while Reece is making his fourth-straight team, and Mack being voted to his first.

Woodson is a viable lock for a spot in Canton once the five-year waiting period is over.

When the Raiders host the Chargers (4-10) on Thursday in Oakland’s last home game (possibly in Oakland, but don’t lose hope), Raider Nation will have one more opportunity to see one of the greatest defensive players (at any position) in the NFL.

The former fourth overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft will no doubt receive the loudest ovation from the expected sellout crowd on Christmas Eve.

Oakland (6-8) dropped their last home game to the visiting Green Bay Packers 30-20 on Sunday eliminating the Silver and Black from playoff contention for the 13th straight season.

The Chargers (4-10), defeated the Miami Dolphins 30-14 in what many believe was the final game in San Diego for quarterback Philip Rivers and Co.

Rivers passed for three touchdowns (one interception), all to running back Danny Woodhead.

Woodhead added a rushing touchdown, giving him four total for the game.

Oakland and San Diego have been rumored, along with the St. Louis Rams as teams that are planning to relocate to Los Angeles next season.


Raiders look to slow down Rodgers, Packers

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

photo credit: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers

OAKLAND — At 6-7, the Raiders have a chance to reach the .500 mark this late in the season for the first time since finishing 8-8 in 2011 but it will be a tall order with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers visiting Coliseum Sunday for Week 15.

Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. PDT with rain predicted for the forecast. This the first meeting between the two teams in Oakland since 2003, as each of the previous two match-ups occurred in Green Bay.

After a 1-4 stretch in November when the Packers found themselves behind the then first place Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North, Green Bay (9-4) has won back-to-back games and have overtaken Minnesota, who have dropped back-to-back games in December.

If there is ever a game where fans can see two exceptional quarterbacks that are eerily similar in playing styles, then the battle between Chico’s own Rodgers and Fresno’s own Derek Carr is the game.

Both quarterbacks are tied for fourth in the NFL with 28 touchdown passes, while Carr has the advantage in passing yards (3,313 to 3,175), Rodgers has thrown four less interceptions (five to nine) than Carr.

Seven of Carr’s nine interceptions have come in the fourth quarter. Fourth quarter interceptions have been Carr’s Achilles’ heel this season.

Carr and the Raiders had -12 yards of total offense in the first half, but turned things around in the second half with two touchdown passes to lead Oakland to a shocking 15-12 victory in Denver last Sunday.

Carr completed just 12 of 29 passes for 135 yards. His 41.4 completion rating was his lowest for any game this season.

Oakland held a very good Broncos’ offense to just 34 yards rushing, and have held eight of their last 11 opponents under 100 yards rushing. Dissecting the Raiders’ run defense further, they have yielded an average of 55.7 yards rushing per game in the last three games.

Amari Cooper, Oakland’s talented rookie wide receiver who came into the game with a team leading 920 receiving yards, was held without a catch against Denver’s tough secondary. Cooper might be hitting the rookie wall this late in the season, has been dealing with a foot injury this week.

The real story from Oakland’s victory in Denver was the tremendous play from defensive end Khalil Mack.

After being quiet in the first half, Mack was a house on fire in the second half tormenting Denver’s maligned offensive line by recording five sacks, seven tackles (six solo) and a forced fumble while being named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance. It was Mack’s third straight game with at least two sacks.

Mack, who leads the NFL with 14 sacks, is just two sacks away from Derrick Burgess’ franchise record of 16 sacks he set in 2006,  will have the Packers’ full attention Sunday.

Rodgers and Co. are coming off a 28-7 home victory over the down-trodden Dallas Cowboys in Week 15.

Green Bay’s signal caller completed 22 of 35 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns against Dallas. The two-time NFL MVP has his lowest completion percentage (61.2) and passer rating (97.5) since becoming the team’s full-time starter in 2008.

Rodgers is hoping that facing Oakland’s 28th ranked pass defense (271.5) will improve those numbers, but Rodgers must be aware that Oakland has gotten to the quarterback as the defense has recorded 19 sacks in the last five games.

Rodgers has been sacked 31 times this season, fourth-most in the NFC.

Sunday will also be the first time that current Raiders’ safety Charles Woodson and Packers’ wide receiver James Jones face their respected former teams.

Woodson, 39, was released by Green Bay in 2013, returned to Oakland and has found the fountain of youth.

The 18-year veteran who helped Green Bay win the Super Bowl in 2010, has played steady this season tied for third in the NFL with five interceptions and ranks first with four forced fumbles.

Jones, who was released by Oakland last year after leading the team with 73 catches and six touchdowns, is tied with tight end Richard Rodgers for the team lead with seven touchdown catches, and second on the team with 660 receiving yards behind fellow wide receiver Randall Cobb’s 737 yards.

Jones’s 18.9 yards per catch leads all NFL wide receivers with 30-plus catches.






Carr and Raiders look to validate legitimacy with Jets visiting Oakland Sunday

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — As October comes to an end and November begins in the National Football League, the playoff puzzle starts to take shape and the Raiders are hoping to be a major factor this year.

After boat-racing the Chargers 37-29 last Sunday behind an offensive onslaught led by quarterback Derek Carr’s 24 of 31 completions for 289 yards three touchdowns, Oakland (3-3) faces a tough pass defense when the Silver and Black host the New York Jets Sunday at 1:05 p.m. PT.

Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper has been absolutely dynamite this season and is by far the odds on favorite to win the rookie of the year award.

Cooper torched the Chargers’ shaky pass defense for five catches and 133 yards, including a 52-yard catch and run touchdown that put Oakland ahead 30-6 shortly before halftime.

The former Alabama star leads all rookies with 33 catches for 519 yards and three touchdowns and became the first rookie to have three 100-yard efforts in his first six games since tight end Mike Ditka in 1961. Both Cooper and former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree are on pace to have 1,000-yard receiving seasons, which Oakland hasn’t had since Randy Moss’s 1,005 yards in 2005.

But the Jets (4-2) aren’t the San Diego Chargers and New York’s cornerback tandem of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. It can be expected that first-year Jets head coach Todd Bowles will have Revis following Cooper all day to prevent Cooper’s explosive play-making ability.

New York squandered a 20-16 lead at AFC East-leading New England last week with 13 minutes to go, before falling 30-23 to the Patriots. The Jets, who sacked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady three times, comes into the game with seven sacks over their last three games.

Stud defensive tackle Muhammed Wilkerson leads the team with five sacks, while Oakland’s offensive line has protected Carr all season just yielding seven sacks.

Gang Green leads the league in stopping the opposition’s running game, surrendering just 71.5 yards per game. New York held New England to 16 rushing yards, their fourth-lowest total in franchise history.

Oakland has given up 303.8 yards per game this season, but has registered seven interceptions in the last five games after picking off Philip Rivers twice last week.

Raiders safety Charles Woodson, who was named AFC defensive player of the month for October, continues to be a marvel at age 39. It’s the fifth time Woodson has won defensive player of the month after recording three interceptions in three games in October.

Chris Ivory is the Jets’ bellcow, is dealing with a hamstring injury and his status for Sunday remains uncertain. Ivory mustered just 41 yards on 17 carries against New England.

In last season’s 19-14 victory over Oakland at MetLife Stadium last year, Ivory wore down Oakland with 102 rushing yards and a touchdown. Given the hamstring injury to Ivory, Oakland maybe better suited to stopping the Jets’ ground attack as the Silver and Black are third against the run this season allowing just 84.3 yards per game.

If Oakland is able to win this game against the Jets, it will give Oakland the head-to-head advantage in any tiebreaker situations for a playoff spot.

After Sunday’s game, Oakland travels to 4-3 Pittsburgh, in another tough game with possible playoff implications for both.

At the bye Week, 2-3 Raiders are off to promising start

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — With the first five weeks of the season down, Raider Nation should be happy with their team sitting at 2-3 at the bye week.

Oakland has been competitive in every contest from start to finish and it can’t be denied that the team is trending in the right direction. Even after dropping their last two games to Chicago and Denver respectively, the Raiders have definitely been entertaining.

Derek Carr, Oakland’s young signal caller, has complete control of the offense. The second-year pro from Fresno State engineers the 21st ranked offense in the NFL, but his numbers have been outstanding; completing 64 percent of his passes for 1,171 yards, eight touchdowns, and just three interceptions.

Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper has made the transition from the college ranks to the pros, leading all rookie wide receivers in catches (28), receiving yards (386), touchdowns (two), and receiving yards per game (77.2). The fourth overall pick in this year’s draft out of Alabama has been as good as advertised.

Pair Cooper with the veteran  Michael Crabtree, and Oakland has a pair of wide receivers that give Carr dependable weapons to throw to. Crabtree, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason after spending his first six seasons in San Francisco, is second behind Cooper on the team with 27 catches, 318 yards receiving, and one touchdown.

Oakland needs to get the running game more involved in the offense, that means Latavius Murray needs to step up and take the running game by the horns.

Murray does have 336 yards rushing on 80 carries and two touchdowns this season, but was a virtual no-show in last week’s 16-10 home loss to the Broncos, carrying the ball 13 times for just 39 yards. Carr had 39 attempts against the Broncos’ top-ranked defense.

With the loss of defensive end Justin Tuck for the season with a torn right pectoral muscle, Oakland’s defense took a hit in the pass rush department. Opposing offenses can now key in on defensive end Khalil Mack and possibly double team linebacker Aldon Smith, another ex-49er.

But the real player that compensates for Oakland’s 25th ranked defense is no doubt, safety Charles Woodson. In his 18th, and most certainly final season of his sure-fire Hall of Fame career, Woodson is making an case for early Defensive Player of the Year.

Woodson has recorded four interceptions this season, two coming off the arm of another future Hall of Famer in Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. The former Heisman Trophy winner has been playing with a separated right shoulder for most of the season, has gutted it up each week for the Silver and Black.

Once the bye week is completed, Oakland’s next four opponents in San Diego (2-3), New York Jets (3-1), Pittsburgh (3-2), and Minnesota (2-2), are all formidable competition that will reveal the Raiders’ true team identity for the rest of the season.

Carr, Raiders fall short in Chicago on last second field goal

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

CHICAGO — Robbie Gould’s 49-yard field goal in the final minute proved to be the difference, propelling the Chicago Bears to their first win of the season with a 22-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.

Bears’ (1-3) starting quarterback Jay Cutler completed 28-of-43 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in his return to the lineup after missing last week’s game due to a hamstring injury. Cutler’s status was up in the air for most of the week as he was limited in practice.

Oakland (2-2) was hanging on by a thread after taking a 20-19 lead with 2:05 left in the game behind a 41-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski. Janikowski’s field goal was set up by free safety Charles Woodson’s interception after Cutler drove Chicago deep into Raiders’ territory. Woodson, the savvy 18-year veteran, undercut a Cutler pass intended for tight end Martellus Bennett at the 6:50 mark.

Woodson’s interception was his sixth in eight career games at Soldier Field.

Woodson appeared to have saved Oakland once again after bailing out the Raiders with a game-clinching interception in last week’s win at Cleveland.

Martellus Bennett became another tight end that continue to hurt the Raiders’ defense this season, finishing with 11 catches (13 targets) for 83 yards and a touchdown.

With injuries decimating the wide receiving corps for Chicago playing with starters Alshon Jeffrey and rookie Kevin White, Cutler was able to get great production from wide receivers Eddie Royal (7 REC., 54 YDS, 1 TD on 10 targets) and Marquess Wilson (6 REC., 80 YDS on nine targets).

Chicago running back Matt Forte, who has been rumored to be on the trading block, finished with 25 carries for 91 rushing yards. Forte also added 48 yards on four catches. The Bears won the time of possession battle, controlling the ball for 33 minutes of the game compared to just 26 minutes for the Silver & Black.

Raiders’ starting quarterback Derek Carr completed 20-of-33 passes for only 196 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Carr was coming off back-to-back 300-plus passing performances.

Carr connected with rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper on a 26-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter that was placed perfectly on Cooper’s hands that needed replay review to confirm the score. Cooper was targeted nine times, catching just four balls for 49 yards receiving.

Fellow wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught five passes for 80 yards on six targets. Crabtree left the game in the second quarter after rolling his ankle, but returned to finish the game.

Latavius Murray, had a day to forget. Murray had a pass bounce of his chest pads that led to an interception in the second quarter, and then lost a fumble on a toss play. Murray, who was replaced by Roy Helu after the fumble, finished with with just 49 yards on 16 carries.

Malcolm Smith paced the Raiders’ defense with nine tackles. Oakland’s defensive unit as a whole registered three sacks and forced two fumbles (both recovered).

The Silver & Black converted two turnovers into 10 points, but it wasn’t enough for Oakland to push their record to 3-1.

After finishing their two-game road trip 1-1, Oakland returns home to host AFC West-leading Denver Broncos Oct. 11.

Raiders head to Mile High for regular season finale

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

Follow Joe on twitter @JLHB510

OAKLAND — After dispatching the visiting Buffalo Bills 26-24 at Coliseum in Week 16 behind two touchdown passes from rookie quarterback Derek Carr and four field goals from Sebastian Janikowski and extending the Bills playoff drought to 15 years, the Raiders travel to Denver Sunday to take on the AFC West champion Broncos in both team’s regular season finale.

Oakland (3-12) dominated the time of possession over the Bills (8-7), 33:47 to 26:13, and rushing yards, 140 to 13.

After starting the season 0-10, the Raiders are 3-2 in their last five games with victories over Kansas City, San Francisco, and now, Buffalo.

“I can’t say enough good things about this team,” interim coach Tony Sparano said. “I love the guys in that locker room. They’re fighters. Anytime somebody counts them out, they bounce back. It’s a great sign of character.”

Defensively, Oakland got key contributions from middle linebacker Miles Burris, who recorded a team-high nine tackles (4 solo) and cornerback D.J. Hayden, who had six tackles.

With Oakland trailing Buffalo, 7-0 in the second quarter behind Bills rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins’ 42-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter and Buffalo driving into Oakland’s territory, veteran safety Charles Woodson out-muscled Bills tight end Scott Chandler for the ball to record his 60th career interception. Woodson’s interception, proved to be the play that provided Oakland with the momentum to carry them through the rest of the game.

“This team has never really gotten down to the point where we were ready to give up,” safety Woodson said. “It’s always been an upbeat attitude with the guys on the team, and it shows out there each week.”

There is no doubt that Woodson has played at high level this year at age 38, leading the team in tackles (106) and interceptions (4), to go along with eight pass defensed and a sack.

Woodson, along with rookie linebacker Khalil Mack (tied for the team lead with four sacks), were named as alternates in the upcoming Pro Bowl. According to Pro Football Focus, Mack rates as the the best 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL.

Fullback Marcel Reece was named a starter for the Pro Bowl, his third overall.

Denver is coming off gut-punching 37-28 loss in Cincinnati before a national televised audience where quarterback Peyton Manning threw a season-high four interceptions.

“I shouldn’t have thrown it,” said Manning, who was 28 of 44 for 311 yards with two touchdowns. “Four interceptions, you’re not going to beat many good football teams.”

With the loss, Denver (11-4) are locked in as the No. 2 seed as New England wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. Denver also failed to clinch a first-round bye.

 Players to Watch

Oakland, QB, Derek Carr

There is no doubt that Carr is the Raiders’ quarterback of the future, and his play has definitely gotten better as the season gone on. Carr leads all rookie quarterbacks in passing yards (3,112) and touchdown passes (20). If it weren’t for Cincinnati rookie running back Jeremy Hill (199 carries, 1,024 rushing yards, 9 TDs) and New York Giants’ rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (79 catches, 1,120 receiving yards, 11 TDs) Carr would be walking away with the NFL Rookie of the Year award.

Denver, QB, Peyton Manning

Manning appeared mortal against Cincinnati with his season-high four interceptions, prompting many pundits to question whether Manning was injured. The Bengals was up in the future Hall of Famer’s grill, confusing Manning with an array of pressuring blitzes and knocking him down throughout the game. Rarely does Manning play poorly in back-to-back weeks and with the playoffs just one week away, one will expect Manning to have a bounce back performance. In Denver’s 41-17 demolishing over Oakland in Week 10, Manning threw for 340 and five touchdowns.

Raiders off to KC looking for seconds

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — After a dominating performance on both sides of the ball in a 24-13 victory over their cross-bay rivals the San Francisco 49ers at Coliseum last Sunday, the Raiders look to take that momentum into Kansas City Sunday against their arch rival the Chiefs.

Oakland (2-11) earned their first win of the season with a 24-20 victory over Kansas City in Week 12 at the Black Hole and would like nothing more to take the season series from the Chiefs.

Raiders’ signal caller Derek Carr played more like a 10-year veteran than a rookie, completing 22-of-28 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns against the 49ers No. 2 ranked defense that gave up two touchdown drives of 80 yards and rarely pressured Carr.

Carr completely outplayed 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who didn’t fair too well against a Raiders defense that sacked Kapernick five times, two apiece by rookie linebacker Khalil Mack and defensive tackle Antonio Smith.

“This week it was preached to us just how important this game was,” Smith said after the game. “This week more and more of us became true Raiders, knowing what the heritage is about, knowing what this game was about, how important it was to this city.”

Safety Charles Woodson sealed the victory (and possibly San Francisco’s playoff chances) in style with a fourth quarter interception.

Kansas City (7-6), are coming off close 17-14 loss to the Cardinals in Arizona last Sunday, their third straight loss dating back to their first encounter with Oakland on Nov. 20.

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith completed 26-of-39 passes for 293 yards one touchdown and an interception. Running back  Jamaal Charles finished with 10 carries for 91 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown run. Charles’ second touchdown (an 18-yard toss from Smith), gave Kansas City a 14-6 halftime lead only to see the lead slip away.

Oakland could have some trouble against a Chiefs team that is No. 5 overall in defense, and No. 2 against the pass and who are desperate to end their three-game losing streak and stay afloat in a tight AFC playoff race.

Players to Watch

Kansas City, OLB, Justin Houston.

Houston has been nothing less then stellar for Kansas City this season. With 16 sacks (a career-high), Houston is tied with Baltimore outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil for the most in the NFL. The fourth-year pro from Georgia recorded a sack the last time Oakland saw Kansas City.

Oakland, QB, Derek Carr.

There is no question that Carr is Oakland’s quarterback for the next five-to-10 years. That should be music to the ears of Raider Nation, who’ve had 18 different starting quarterbacks since Rich Gannon in 2003. Carr leads all rookies in touchdown passes (17) and passing yards (2,676).

Raiders look to make it two in a row, face Rams in St. Louis

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — No longer searching for the first win 2014, the Raiders will look to pick up their second win of the season as they hit the road to St. Louis to take on the Rams Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. Kickoff is set for noon CST (10:00 a.m. PST) and can be seen locally on CBS/KPIX 5.

Oakland (1-10) took down their AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs 24-20 last Thursday in front of a nationally televised audience to kickoff Week 12. With the win, Oakland snapped a 16-game losing streak dating back to last season.

Offensively, quarterback Derek Carr put the Raiders on his back. The rookie signal caller engineered a 17-play, 80-yard, game-winning drive that ended with Carr tossing a nine-yard touchdown to wide receiver James Jones. The drive chewed up 7:21 of the fourth quarter.

Carr finished the game 18-of-35 for 172 yards.

“Amazing. Hopefully there’s many more to come,” Carr said after Oakland’s victory, “because I like this feeling better than the other one, that’s for sure. I’m glad that this finally came. I’ll be able to enjoy it.”

The Silver & Black’s poor rushing attack got a huge boost from Latavius Murray. Murray rushed for 112 yards with two first quarter touchdowns, one from 9o-yards out that gave Oakland a 14-3 lead in the second quarter. The second-year running back was knocked out of the game with a concussion on his fourth carry, so who knows what numbers Murray would’ve finished with if he could’ve stayed in the game.

Defensively, Oakland was led by their 38-year-old leader free safety Charles Woodson.

Woodson, finished second on the team with seven tackles (one assisted) and  a sack, becoming the first person in NFL history with 50 interceptions and 20 sacks. The 17-year veteran from Michigan was also named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

St. Louis (4-7), are coming off a heartbreaking 27-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers last week on the road where the Rams squandered a 17-6 third quarter lead.

Rams quarterback Shaun Hill completed 18-of-36 passes for 198 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Rookie running back finished with 62 yards on 16 carries, after beating up the Denver Broncos for 113 yards yards on 29 carries for a Rams 22-7 victory in Week 11 at home.

Offensively, St. Louis doesn’t score many points, only averaging 19 points per game. But where the Rams lack in offense, their defense can get after the quarterback and make tackles.

Defensive end Robert Quinn leads the team with six sacks, but rookie defensive tackle Aaron Donald is second with five sacks.

Quinn has a knack for getting to quarterbacks, after registering two of the eight Rams’ sacks on San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick in St. Louis’ 13-10 victory in Week 9.

Oakland should not sleep on Rams linebackers James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree.

These two linebackers are always around the ball and are sure tacklers, with Ogletree leading the club with 75 tackles (68 assisted), while Laurinaitis is second with 70 (59 assisted).

Players to Watch

Oakland, RB, Latavius Murray. If Murray is able to be cleared to play Sunday, he has to be in the starting lineup. Murray clearly has added life to a morbid running game that was getting absolutely nothing from Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden. Again if Murray didn’t take a nasty hit from Chiefs free safety Kurt Coleman in the second quarter, Murray might still be running through Kansas City.

St. Louis, TE, Jared Cook. Cook leads the Rams with 37 catches and 473 yards, but just one touchdown. The Rams like using two tight end sets, so keep an eye on backup tight end, Lance Kendricks. Kendricks may just have 22 catches on the season, but he leads the Rams with four touchdown catches.



0-10 Raiders host Chiefs Thursday in primetime

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — With Derek Carr limited in practice with a quad injury, along with several players dealing with injuries, the Raiders will have to get healthy in a hurry with the Kansas City Chiefs coming to town for Thursday Night Football to kickoff Week 12. This will be the first time that the two AFC West rivals have seen each other this season when the ball kicks off at 5:25 p.m. PDT at Coliseum.

The Raiders are coming off a tough 13-6 loss to another AFC West rival, the San Diego Chargers in Week 11 where the defense harassed Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers all day, even injuring the Chargers signal caller at one point.

Rookie linebacker Khalil Mack recorded his first career sack, one of two on the day (the other by defensive tackle Antonio Smith, his first as a member of the Silver & Black).

Safety Charles Woodson led the team in tackles with 11 (three assisted), and Oakland’s 32nd ranked defense kept the Chargers’ 17th ranked offense at bay yielding only 300 yards of total offense, and one touchdown (a Rivers 22-yard toss to wide receiver Malcolm Floyd on the Chargers third play from scrimmage following a Carr fumble).

But, the offense couldn’t muster any type of chemistry.

Carr played a mediocre game, completing just 16-of-34 passes for 172 yards and couldn’t get the Raiders into the end zone. Oakland managed just three first downs and had four 3-and-outs in the first half. Matter of fact, Oakland didn’t get into the red zone until 5:05 left in the fourth quarter, but came up empty what essentially would be the final drive of the game.

The running game? Well, the running game was still a no show with the exception of running back Latavius Murray.

Murray showed flashes of what he could do when given an opportunity, racking up 43 yards on four carries, one for a 23-yard gain. All career highs.

The tandem of Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden managed just 27 yards on 12 carries combine. According to Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano, Murray will get more time running the ball.

“He played a little bit more yesterday and he’s going to continue to do that,” Sparano said. “I like what I’ve seen out of him so far. So in a roundabout way, I’m saying yeah, you’re going to see more of him.”

But running the ball could be tough for Oakland, especially against a Kansas City team who hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown all season, and that can be credited to their intimidating nose tackle, Dontari Poe all 6’3″, 346 pounds of him.

“He’s a real handful,” Sparano said. “He really is.”

The Chiefs are coming off a 24-20, come-from-behind victory against the reigning Super Bowl Champions Seattle Seahawks Sunday at Arrowhead.

Quarterback Alex Smith was his usual efficient self, completing 11-of-16 passes for just 108 yards through the air but it was the play off their Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles on offense that set the tone for Kansas City.

Charles ran through the vaunted Seahawks defense, rushing for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. The seventh-year running back out of Texas appeared to find running lanes against a Seahawks team that was missing it’s star defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, gone for the season with a hamstring injury.

At 7-3, Kansas City is tied with the Denver Broncos for first place (with Denver currently holding the tiebreaker over the Chiefs following a 24-17 home victory in Week 2) in the AFC West and with a Week 13 home date against the Broncos, Kansas City better not overlook the Raiders.

Oakland would like nothing more than to spoil Kansas City’s chances at taking sole possession of first place in the AFC West, even if it means helping out the Broncos in the process.

Face it. Oakland is just thirsting to end its 16-game losing streak dating back to last season. It will take more from Carr and the offense to support a defense that has played pretty well in recent weeks.

You can’t win football games in the National Football League by just kicking field goals.

Players To Watch

Oakland, RB, Latavius Murray: It’s no secret that the Raiders running game has been, pedestrian, to say the least this season. Ranking dead last with just 630 yards on the ground as a team, Oakland needs the fresh legs of Murray to provide a jolt, something that Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden can’t do.

Kansas City, TE, Travis Kelce: Even though wide receiver Dwayne Bowe leads the Chiefs with 41 catches for 508 yards, it’s the second-year tight end out of Cincinnati that seems to be the guy that quarterback Alex Smith trusts the most. Kelce is second on the team with 37 catches for 475 yards receiving, but leads the team with four touchdown grabs. Bowe has yet to find the end zone. Heck, none of Kansas City’s wide receivers have yet to find the end zone this season.