Oakland Raiders-Jacksonville Jaguars preview: Raiders hit the road for Jacksonville

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

AP file photo: Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr looks for some help out there in last Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs

OAKLAND, Calif — Looking to get back to winning football, the Raiders begin a two-game trip through the Sunshine State with a stop in Jacksonville Sunday to take on the Jaguars at EverBank Field in Week 7 action.

It’s the Raiders second game against the AFC South this season. Oakland derailed the Tennessee Titans 17-10 in Nashville in Week 3.

Kickoff is set for 10:00 a.m. PT in Oakland, 1:00 p.m. ET.

Oakland (4-2) were tripped up by Kansas City 26-10 last Sunday in a rainy, muddy game at the Oakland Coliseum that dropped the Raiders to 1-2 at home on the season. It was the first time this season that these two AFC West rivals faced each other.

Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 225 yards on 22-of-34 passing with one touchdown and one interception for Oakland, who were held scoreless in the second half.

Carr has thrown for 1,608 yards, 12 touchdowns, and just three interceptions in six games for Oakland this year.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper finished with a career-high 10 catches for 129 yards.

Cooper led all Raiders wide receivers with 14 targets, while fellow wide receiver Andre Holmes hauled in his second touchdown catch of the season on the Raiders’ opening drive of the game.

Oakland’s running game was powered by rookie DeAndre Washington, who led the Raiders with 49 yards rushing. The Raiders played without starter Latavius Murray, who missed his second straight game with a toe injury.

On defense, the Raiders allowed 406 total yards to the Chiefs Sunday. Oakland’s defense ranks 32nd in the NFL, allowing 444.8 yards per game after giving up 500+ yards in the team’s first two games of the season.

Rookie safety Karl Joseph led Oakland with 11 tackles (seven solo) and defensive end Khalil Mack registered his second sack of the season, sacking Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the first quarter that forced a punt.

Jacksonville (2-3) scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to take down the Chicago Bears 17-16 at Soldier Field last week.

Quarterback Blake Bortles, who was drafted in the same class as Carr in 2014 out of Central Florida, completed 20-of-33 passes for 271 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Bortles, who threw a career-high 4,428 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions in 2015, has thrown for 1,321 yards, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions this season.

Oakland’s much maligned secondary could have their hands full with Jacksonville’s wide receivers, most notably Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

After exploding in 2015 with 90 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns (all team-highs), Robinson is second on Jacksonville with 287 receiving yards and leads the team with three touchdowns on 24 catches.

Hurns, who is first on the team with 300 receiving yards, has just one touchdown through five games for Jacksonville after hauling in 64 catches for 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015.

Jacksonville has a very aggressive defense led by linebackers Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith. The duo have combined for 86 tackles this season, which are second in the league behind Buffalo linebacker duo of Zach Brown and Preston Brown’s (no relation) 121 tackles.

Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue leads all rookies with four sacks this season and will be a test for Oakland’s stout offensive line.

Following Sunday’s game, the Raiders will stay in Florida in preparation for their Week 8 meeting at Tampa against the Buccaneers, before returning home for their big showdown with the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football in Week 9 before their bye week.

Raiders Instant Report Card: Carr and Crabtree lead Oakland past Baltimore

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

AP photo: The Oakland Raiders wide receiver looks relieved, cool and collected after a narrow win against the Baltimore Ravens at the post game press conference on Sunday for the Raiders third straight road win

BALTIMORE, MD — Winning on the road in the NFL is a tough feat for any team to accomplish.

The Oakland Raiders are demonstrating that they have no problems winning on the road, after picking up their third win of the season with a 28-27 nail-biting win over the Ravens in Baltimore. Oakland won in New Orleans (Week 1) and in Tennessee (Week 3).

The Silver & Black (3-1), are off to their best start since 2000.

Checkout each unit’s grade following Oakland’s (3-1) road victory Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium:

Quarterback (A+) – What more can you ask Derek Carr to do on Sunday?

The Raiders starting quarterback played quite well, tying a career-high with four touchdown passes on 25-of-35 passes for 199 yards. But the game was not for the faint of heart, as Oakland couldn’t maintain a nine-point fourth quarter lead.

With Baltimore now clinging to a 27-21 lead in the fourth quarter, Carr engineered a 6-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in a 23-yard strike to wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the back of the end zone with 2:12 left.

For the season, Carr has thrown for 1,078 yards, nine touchdowns, and just one interception, giving Raider Nation confidence that Carr is the real deal.

In 11 red zone possessions this season, Oakland has scored 10 touchdowns which leads the league.

Running Backs (C) – Oakland’s ground attack mustered up just 62 yards, 28 of those by rookie DeAndre Washington who led all Raider rushers with 30 yards.

Washington’s fumble in the fourth quarter almost proved costly for the Raiders, after the fumble would set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Ravens’ running back Terrence West.

Starter Latavius Murray (eight carries for 19 yards) and rookie Jalen Richard (two carries for 15 yards), rounded out the rushing yards for Oakland.

Richard did factor in on Oakland’s first score of the day, returning a 47-yard punt to the Ravens’ six-yard line. Carr would find wide receiver Seth Roberts for the touchdown on the next play, giving Oakland a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Offensive line (B) – A group that was missing left tackle Menelik Watson, the offensive line kept Carr up right for the majority of the day, yielding no sacks to a vaunted Ravens defensive front anchored by linebacker Terrell Suggs and defensive lineman, Timmy Jerningan. Both Suggs and Jerningan entered Sunday’s contest tied for the team lead with three sacks each.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends (A-) – Crabtree has turned into Carr’s favorite target, as evident of the 12 times the Raider signal-caller target the talented wide receiver.

Crabtree was unstoppable against Baltimore, hauling in seven passes for 88 yards and three touchdowns and looking more and more like a game-changer the Raiders envisioned. With seven catches Sunday, Crabtree has gone 21 straight games where he’s caught at least three passes in a game.

The two-time Fred Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top wide receiver in 2007 and ’08 out of Texas Tech, leads all Oakland wide receivers in catches (26) and touchdowns (4), and is second behind fellow wide receiver Amari Cooper’s 318 yards with 308.

Cooper finished with five catches (six targets) for 48 yards, and is still looking for his first receiving touchdown of the season after catching six in his rookie campaign last season.

Seth Roberts is second among Raider wide receivers with three touchdowns catches this season.

Starting tight end Lee Smith (right ankle) left the game in the second quarter and didn’t return, while backup Clive Walford came in and caught two passes for five yards.

Defensively, Oakland yielded 412 total yards and 25 first downs to Baltimore. Oakland’s defense did slow down Baltimore in the first half, surrendering just six points on seven offensive drives for Baltimore and forcing the Ravens to punt five times.

Defensive Line (C+) – The defensive line allowed running back Terrence West to rush for 113 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown Sunday. Oakland is still allowing physical running backs to run right through them, even though having defensive tackle Mario Edwards out does hurt stopping the run.

But seeing defensive end Khalil Mack record his first sack of the season in the fourth quarter off Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco was a tremendous site for Oakland. Mack was having trouble getting to the opposing quarterback this season as he finish with 15 sacks, second in the NFL to J.J. Watt’s 17.

Linebackers (B-) – Bruce Irvin recorded his third forced fumble in the fourth quarter (one of two  off Flacco in Ravens’ territory was a huge turning point for Oakland, who was holding on to a 14-12 lead.

Irvin, who also recorded his second sack of the season,  has been a nice addition for Oakland this season after spending his first four seasons in the NFL in Seattle and was part of the Seahawks team that won Super Bowl XLVIII.

Rookie linebacker Corey James led all Raider defenders in tackles with 12 (three assisted).

Secondary (B) – Things got dicey for the Raiders in the fourth quarter, trying to maintain a nine-point lead at 21-12, especially trying to stop Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.

Smith Sr. took a Flacco slant pass 52 yards for his first score of the season, cutting Oakland’s lead to 21-19 following the extra point. The 16-year vet finished with eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown.

The secondary held Flacco to 298 yards on 32-of-52 passes. On 30 dropbacks in the first half, the Raiders harassed Flacco, hurrying him seven times, and hitting the Super Bowl winning quarterback four times.

The Raiders now head home for a date with their AFC West rival, the San Diego Chargers next Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum.

Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. PT.



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: sportsworldreport.com 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 O.co 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 left off PFWA’s All-Rookie team

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — I guess Derek Carr still has a lot to prove in the NFL, according to the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).

The PFWA released its All-Rookie team on Tuesday and the Raiders had two players receive honors: linebacker Khalil Mack and defensive tackle Justin “Jelly” Ellis.

Clearly there is no debate on why the PFWA selected Mack, Oakland’s fifth overall pick in last April’s NFL draft. Mack finished with 75 tackles, 4 sacks, and 1 forced fumble while starting all 16 games.

Ellis, who was a bit of a surprise to me, finished with 21 tackles, but didn’t record a sack in 16 games played (14 starts).

The bigger surprise was the fact that Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr was snubbed from the team in favor of Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.

In 16 starts, Carr led all rookies by passing for 3,270 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, with a 76.6 passer rating. His 599 passing attempts ranks second in NFL history among rookies (Andrew Luck had 629 in 2012).

One of Carr’s signature games has got to be the 24-13 victory in Week 14 over the Raiders’ Bay Area rival, the San Francisco 49ers where he tossed 3 touchdowns on 22-for-28 passes for 254 yards. That victory pretty much spelled the end of the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco.

Bridgewater had a strong season himself, throwing for 2,919 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, with a passer rating of 85.2 while playing in 13 games (12 starts).

Sure Bridgewater had a higher completion rating than Carr (64.4 to 58.1), and Minnesota (7-9) finished with a better record than Oakland (3-13), but Carr should’ve gotten the nod over Bridgewater.

Take nothing away from Bridgewater, who benefits from having one of the better offensive play-callers in offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who will return to Minnesota next season, but Carr will enter the 2015 season having to learn a new offense and adjust to his third head coach in a matter of a year.

Oakland introduced former Broncos’ defensive coordinator as the team’s new head coach on Friday at a press conference at the team’s Alameda headquarters.

Carr and Bridgewater will forever be linked to each other for the rest of their careers. Both quarterbacks are going to be compared to the other on how each team wins an loses, but in the long run, I think Carr will have the better career than Bridgewater.

Only time will tell, but I’m sorry, the PFWA got the choice at quarterback for its 2014 All-Rookie team wrong.

Below is the complete list of the 2014 PFWA All-Rookie team and rookie year-end awards.

2014 PFWA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: WR Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
2014 PFWA OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: WR Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
2014 PFWA DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: DT Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams

QB – Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
RB – Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals; Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams
WR – Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants; Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
TE – Jace Amaro, New York Jets
C – Corey Linsley, Green Bay Packers
G – Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns; Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys
T – Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans; Ja’Wuan James, Miami Dolphins
DL – Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams; Timmy Jernigan, Baltimore Ravens; Kony Ealy, Carolina Panthers; Justin Ellis, Oakland Raiders
LB – Chris Borland, San Francisco 49ers; Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders; C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens
CB – Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears; E.J. Gaines, St. Louis Rams
S – Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers
Special Teams
PK – Cody Parkey, Philadelphia Eagles
P – Pat O’Donnell, Chicago Bears
KR – Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
PR – De’Anthony Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs
ST – Trey Burton, Philadelphia Eagles


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 O.co 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.

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 O.co 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.




The Silver and Black Readies for Green Bay

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — After splitting the first two preseason games against the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions, the Oakland Raiders will play their third and final NFC North opponent when they head to Green Bay to take on the Packers Friday night. Friday night’s encounter with the Packers will be a nationally televised game, airing on CBS with JimNantz and Phil Simms in the booth.

The Silver and Black are coming off a dramatic, 27-26, victory at home against the Lions last Friday night.

Matt McGloin engineered a 13-play, 68-yard drive that was punctuated by a 19-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Brice Butler with just 0:06 remaining. McGloin finished 7-of-15 for 114 yards passing after replacing Derek Carr midway through the fourth quarter, after Carr left the game with what was later diagnosed as a concussion and bruised ribs. Carr did play well before leaving the game, finishing 9-of-16 for 109 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown to tight end Jake Murphy in the third quarter.

Carr passed the standard concussion test as per protocol by the NFL, but won’t play in Friday’s game due to the linger pain in his ribs.

Oakland’s defense got off to a rough start early, finding themselves down 13-0 in the first quarter, but settled down as the game wore on.

One of the team’s key free agent acquisitions in the offseason, cornerback Terrell Brown was burned for a 28-yard touchdown by Detroit’s wide receiver Golden Tate (Detroit’s biggest offseason acquisition).

Linebackers Nick Roach and Khalil Mack each recorded a sack. Mack also finished with two tackles, and appeared more active on the field as he transitions to the speed of the NFL.

Green Bay went into St. Louis and imposed their will on the Rams, leaving the Edward James Dome with a commanding 21-7 victory Saturday night.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked nearly flawless win short work, running the no huddle offense to perfection. Rodgers went 11-of-13 for 128 yards passing, including a 3-yard score to wide receiver Randall Cobb.

Packers linebacker Brad Jones had four tackles, and rookie safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix finished with two tackles, and a sack.

The game can be seen locally on KPIX Channel 5, and heard on 98.5 KFOX with the voice of the Raiders, Greg Papa and two-time Super Bowl winning coach, Tom Flores with the call.

Both teams finish up the preseason next Thursday, when the Raiders host the Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks, and the Packers will face the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field.

Raiders open up the NFL preseason in Minnesota

By. Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — Let’s face it, the NFL preseason is nothing more than a tease, a dress rehearsal if you will.

It’s nothing more than a four-game appetizer that prepares you for the buffet that is the NFL regular season.

But the preseason is vital for all teams, particularly the opener. The first preseason game gives the coaching staff a chance to see if their team in live game action, instead of the seeing them in t-shirts and shorts during practice.

“We’ll put the first team out there for a few plays and see how things go. I really want to get the ones [starters] some work, but I really want to have the opportunity in this first preseason game to see  a lot of these young players go out of and play,” said Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen Wednesday after Oakland’s final practice in preparation for Friday’s preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis.

One of the young players that Coach Allen will definitely have a close eye on will be the Raiders No. 1 draft pick (5th overall), linebacker Khalil Mack from Buffalo. The 6’3″, 252 lbs., Mack is expected to be the linchpin to Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver’s  revamped Oakland defense that finished 22nd in total defense in 2013.

Mack has been receiving rave reviews from players and coaches in during training camp, and could have his hands full with another fellow rookie in Vikings quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.

“He’s a great player. I’m looking forward to playing against great competition,” said Mack Wednesday. “That’s what it’s about – being a competitor. He’s a great competitor. He’s mobile. He has great arms and what not. I look forward to going out against him and whoever else.

Oakland has won four of their last six preseason openers.

Kickoff  for Friday’s tilt at  TCF Bank Stadium is at 5:00 p.m. PT. The game can be heard locally live on KFOX 98.5/102.1 or tune into KTVU FOX 2.

Transactions prior to Wednesday’s practice:

The Raiders signed two players in BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley (rookie), and Nebraska safety Larry Asante (2nd year). In a corresponding move, Oakland waived/injured LB Marshall McFadden and S Shelton Johnson.