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 O.co 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.

 

 

Raiders head to Arrowhead looking for 7th Straight win in Kansas City

By. Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — After dispatching fellow AFC West foe the San Diego Chargers 27-17 last week at home, the Oakland Raiders (2-3) hit the road to take on another AFC West foe, the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) Sunday at Arrowhead. Oakland is seeking their seventh straight win in Kansas City, dating back to 2007.

With former incumbent quarterback Matt Flynn being released on Monday, the Raiders have officially become Terrelle Pryor’s team. On the Flynn experiment, head coach Dennis Allen mentioned “it just didn’t work” during the team’s press conference Monday.

Pryor looked good in the pocket while playing the best football of his career last Sunday night against San Diego, completing 18-of-23 passes for 221 yards and two first quarter touchdowns.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Pryor currently ranks fourth in the NFL in completion percentage, completing 72.7 percent of his passes from the pocket, which is higher than more accomplish quarterbacks such as Drew Brees (69.7), Matt Ryan (69.3), and Aaron Rodgers (66.4).

The one player that will give Oakland its best chance at collecting their seventh straight win at Arrowhead is wide receiver Denarius Moore.

In Oakland’s 26-16 victory last season at Arrowhead, Moore played a vital role in the win, hauling in 96 yards on five catches including a nine-yard touchdown grab. Over the past three games, Moore has 20 catches for 274 receiving yards (18 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. Moore is Pryor’s first option when he drops back to pass.

First-year Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has pumped new blood into Kansas City after their dismal 2-14 season a year ago.

Kansas City took down the Tennessee Titans, 26-17 in Nashville last week, and is playing great football which will be a huge challenge for the Silver and Black.

After playing musical chairs at quarterback, Kansas City traded a conditional second round pick in next year’s draft for former San Francisco 49ers’ No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Alex Smith. Smith isn’t your typical strong-armed quarterback (18th-best quarterback according to nfl.com), but has been very accurate for Kansas City. Smith has thrown seven touchdowns and only three interceptions, but the offense isn’t what makes this team click.

Its the seventh ranked defense (first in points scored against per game at 11.6) in the NFL that has Kansas City running on all cylinders.

Linebacker Justin Houston is the straw that stirs the drink for Kansas City’s defense. Houston is second in the NFL with 8.5 sacks and will no doubt be keeping his eyes on Pryor’s every move. Fellow linebacker Derrick Johnson leads Kansas City with 35 tackles (31 solo).

Kansas City’s has a very formidable defensive line led by defensive end Tamba Hali and rookie defensive tackle, Dontari Poe. Facing the Chiefs defense won’t be a day at the park for Oakland.

Oakland has got to play near flawless football if they expect to leave Arrowhead with a 3-3 record heading into their bye week next week.

Player to Watch for Oakland:

No. 24) Charles Woodson (FS) — The reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week is still playing at a high level at this stage of his career. Against San Diego, Woodson tied the NFL’s all-time record for defensive touchdowns when he recovered a third-quarter fumble, giving him 13 for his career. Woodson’s fourth-quarter interception sealed the win for Oakland.

Player to Watch for Kansas City:

No. 24) Brandon Flowers (CB) — Flowers is one of the better cornerbacks in the league that no one really talks about since he plays in a small market like Kansas City. Flowers has the ability to take the opposing team’s best wide receiver and shut him down for the game. Expect Flowers to shadow Denarius Moore for much of the game.