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KC Chiefs NFL game preview: Chiefs at Oakland Raiders, Week 15

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When: Sunday, Dec. 15

Time: 3:05 p.m. CT

Where: O.com Coliseum, Oakland, Ca.

TV Broadcast: CBS-TV, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts, commentators; DirecTV – 713; NFL Red Zone

Radio Broadcast: Over 60 radio stations on the Chiefs Radio Network; Mitch Holthus and Len Dawson, commentators; Kendall Gammon – sideline reporter. Chiefs Spanish Radio: La Gran D (1340 AM); Play-by-Play: Enrique Morales, Color Commentator: Oscar Monterroso, Sideline Reporter: Ricardo Soto.

SIRIUS: 92 (KC), 119 (Oak). XM: 235 (Oak).

IT’S RAIDERS WEEK!!!!!!! Yeah, those words might not mean as much to the Kansas City Chiefs as they did back in Marty Schottenheimer’s day as head coach, but after the Denver Broncos loss to San Diego on Thursday night, Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders has become even more important.

Before the Broncos loss, the Chiefs wanted to win in Oakland because it would have clinched a playoff spot for KC no matter what happened with the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins, the two teams chasing the Chiefs for the playoffs.

After Denver’s loss, it left a slim chance for the Chiefs to win the AFC West title and a top-two seed in the playoffs. There is probably a slightly better chance for Chiefs owner Clark Hunt to win the MegaMillions $550 million jackpot than for Denver to lose one of the last two games against Houston or Oakland, but hey, it’s nice to dream.

But, the double-carrot of clinching a playoff spot after a 2-14 season last year, and the chance to possibly win the AFC West this late in the season should be all the motivation that the Chiefs need.

Oh, and then there’s the fact that Oakland is a hated division rival that has punked the Chiefs over and over again during the last five years.

Chances are 100-percent that this will not be as easy a game for Kansas City as last week’s 45-10 drubbing of the Washington Redskins. The Redskins have quit on the season, but the Raiders haven’t. Oakland is finishing the year up with three division games and want to show up well in all of them. And though the Raiders' record isn't as good as some other teams, this is not a game the Chiefs can take lightly.

The Chiefs, aside from the playoff scenarios, need to start winning division games. They have been absolutely abysmal in the division over the last six years, struggling their way to a 12-28 record. Yeah …. 12 and freaking 28 in the AFC West!!

Currently, the Chiefs lone division win in 2013 was the Week 6 victory over Oakland at Arrowhead, 24-7. And while that score would normally indicate a comfortable win, that game was knotted at 7-7 late into the third quarter before Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor threw a costly interception that set up a short field for KC and a Jamaal Charles touchdown run. In the fourth quarter, Ryan Succop added a field goal before Husain Abdullah returned another Pryor interception for a pick-six touchdown.

So, in a game with the Chiefs getting plus-2 turnover ratio, NINE sacks, and a defensive touchdown, it was still a fairly close game in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs will be totally focused on the Raiders on Sunday, no doubt.

Whether or not they win the AFC West, Kansas City needs to win their last two division games starting Sunday in Oakland and then in the season finale in San Diego. A 3-3 division record this year would give them a huge boost of confidence into the playoffs considering how well the division has played against the rest of the NFL this year.

Here are three things Chiefs fans should be watching for during Sunday’s game if the Chiefs are going to win:

Get up early and keep their foot on the gas: At 4-9, the Raiders cannot have a non-losing record and they’ve locked up the AFC West cellar. While I just said that they haven’t quit on the season, should the Chiefs get up 14 points or more in the first half, the Raiders probably won’t be pulling out all the stops to get a comeback win. The Raiders are NOT a good team and like last week, the Chiefs need to keep losing teams losing. The biggest difference between the Week 6 win and this week is the fact that the Chiefs offense has been one of the best in the NFL over the last three weeks.

Look for Alex Smith to continue to throw the ball deep and capitalize on his wide receivers height advantage over the shorter Raiders cornerbacks. The diminutive (5’-8”/170-lb) Dexter McCluster is out for this game with an ankle infection, so the 6’-1”/225-lb Junior Hemingway will take his place. The Raiders early success this year was due to a surprisingly tenacious defense that ranked high in almost every category. However, they have come crashing back down to earth since their Week 9 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and over the last month have been about as bad as the Chiefs defense was against Denver and San Diego. The Chiefs offense can – and should – be able to move the ball Sunday.

Remember that Matt McGloin ain’t Peyton or Philip: The Raiders will be starting rookie Matt McGloin at quarterback and the Chiefs defense has crushed inexperienced quarterbacks all year long. To be honest, with the exception of Jason Campbell of the Browns and Dallas’ Tony Romo, the Chiefs have crushed every other quarterback not named Peyton Manning or Philip Rivers. McGloin was an afterthought on the Raiders roster earlier this year and the only reason he is starting is because all the other quarterbacks have … well … stunk. McGloin is a pure pocket passer so the Chiefs pass rushers will know where he is in the pocket. The Chiefs punished Pryor with nine sacks earlier this year and while they probably won’t get nine sacks in this game, they should be able to get four sacks with plenty of other quarterback pressures.

This time, it’s the Chiefs special teams that are more special-er: In years past, Raider kickers have absolutely OWNED the Chiefs with former punter Shane Lechler dropping bombs inside the 10-yard line and place kicker Sebastian Janikowski booming field goals from 50+ yards in all kinds of weather. But this year, the Raiders special teams have been anything but special. Janikowski has missed eight of 26 field goals and punter Marquette King leads the league in total yards per punt (48.8), but has had two punts blocked and averages a mere mortal 39.9 net yards per punt, 18th in the league. In comparison, Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt averages 39.5 net yards, but leads the NFL with 31 punts inside the 20-line. Even without Dexter McCluster, the Chiefs have a tremendous opportunity to make something happen on special teams.

Prediction: The stupidest bet you can make is for a Chiefs/Raiders game to be decided by more than a touchdown, since just about every game they’ve played over the last decade has been decided by fewer than 7 points. But for the second time this season, I’ll be stupid. The Chiefs got a gigantic shot of mojo back last week and are brimming with confidence right now. The Raiders just don’t have the offensive firepower to overwhelm the Chiefs right now. Turnovers and sacks rule the day in the second half and the Chiefs coast to another easy win and a tie with the Broncos atop the AFC West (for now).

Score: Chiefs – 31, Raiders – 16.

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