It’s Chiefs week for the Raiders and the Raider Nation, and both teams need this win. All the better for this historic rivalry to continue. Coming off of a win last week against Jacksonville, the Raiders will look for their first back to back wins of the year, and get some momentum going as the AFC West race continues to heat up. If the Raiders are going to get that key win, there are a few areas of the game where success will be essential. Here are the Week 8 keys to victory.
Stop the Run
Through 7 games, we have seen an impressive improvement in the run defense department, as the Raiders currently rank 12th in the NFL. However, this Sunday, they face a tougher task than they have thus far, in stopping Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles. Charles has proven to be one of the most dangerous tailbacks in the game, capable of taking a play to the endzone from anywhere on the field. For the Raiders to get a win this week, it starts with slowing him down. The two players most key in doing so will be Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Houston. With Charles’ breakaway speed, the Chiefs want to get him in space with runs to the outside. Success in shutting that down will come if Shaughnessy and Houston can consistently set the edge, and force those runs back inside. Stopping the run on this day, more than any other so far, would play a huge factor in a Raiders’ victory.
Pass Block Help
Pass blocking is an area where the Raiders have struggled so far this season, and it doesn’t get any easier this week. The Kansas City Chiefs have dangerous pass rushers on both sides in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. The biggest matchup to watch will be on the right offensive side, where RT Willie Smith should square off against Justin Houston for most of the day. Houston has game changing potential as a pass rusher, with 6 sacks so far in 2012, so he will be a key focus in pass protection. For the Raiders’ offensive tackles to consistently slow down Hali and Houston, chip blocks from backs and tight ends will be essential. If the pass protection struggles early, look for the Raiders to go to more max protect play calls, and double team the Chiefs’ best pass rushers. Success on offense throughout this game will start with the offensive line giving Carson Palmer time in the pocket to throw, and will be key to the potential of a Raiders victory.
Protect the Football
Clearly, protecting the football can be a key to victory for any team in any game. However, in a division game on the road that is expected to be down to the wire, it becomes even more essential. One turnover in a key spot can affect the entire outcome of any game. The Raiders have done fairly well protecting the ball so far in 2012, and that will need to continue in this game. If they can do so, thus contributing in the time of possession battle and sustaining of offensive drives, they should be in a good position to win by the end of the game.
Performing well in these three areas will be essential to the chances of the Raiders getting a key win against a division rival. Should they do so, and move to 3-4 on the season, they would remain right in the thick of the AFC West picture, and establish some momentum moving forward. That very ability to stack wins is essential in the success of any season, and having eluded the Raiders thus far, it becomes more of a focus this week in Kansas City. As always, this rivalry will give us a fun game to watch on Sunday afternoon.
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