By Dave Thomas
With two AFC West powers colliding Thursday evening in the nation’s heartland, fans of both teams can expect an exciting game.
When they met in the Bay Area in the middle of October, Kansas City prevailed on a sloppy Coliseum floor, winning 26-10. In one of the few occurrences this season, that day saw Oakland’s offense pretty well held in check.
Fast forward nearly two months and the Raiders and Chiefs are once again on a collision course in their division. Even though Denver is only two games back of Oakland, the feeling is that either the Raiders or Chiefs seem to have the best shot at capturing the division title.
Can Oakland Ground Kansas City This Time Around?
After being held to a touchdown and field goal in their first meeting with the Chiefs, the Raiders will look to return the favor Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium. In their efforts to do just that, the Raiders will be missing one of their better cogs on the defensive side of the ball, safety Karl Joseph.
Battling a toe injury, Joseph was ruled out for Thursday’s game. To date, the rookie out of West Virginia has tallied 60 total tackles and one interception.
Given Kansas City is more of a run team than lighting up the sky with passes, you might think that Joseph being unavailable is not a huge deal. However, Joseph could have been that last line of defense in halting Kansas City’s run game. To date, the Chiefs have rushed for 1,185 yards as a team. No, not an overwhelming amount of yards on the ground by a team, but still something the Raiders will have to watch.
Joseph’s absence could also be felt when it comes to slowing down one of the NFL’s better tight ends, Travis Kelce. So far this season, Kelce has caught 65 balls for 815 yards, adding in three TDs along the way.
Having scored 59 points in their last two games (wins over Denver and Atlanta, respectively), Kansas City is certainly capable of putting points on the board. That said, it would not be a shock if Thursday’s game is more of a defensive slugfest, especially with the forecast calling for temperatures below freezing by kickoff and possible precipitation.
Chiefs Enter Game Relatively Healthy
Although they continue to miss star running back Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs enter this showdown in relatively good shape. As of Wednesday’s team injury report, Kansas City had five injured players fully participating in practice. For the Chiefs, both defensive tackle Dontari Poe (back) and defensive lineman Kendall Reyes (knee) were tagged as questionable for the contest. Additionally, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (groin), linebacker Tamba Hali (knee), and corner Phillip Gaines (knee) all practiced on Wednesday, though their game-time status was not released.
For both teams, the AFC West will not be won or lost on Thursday evening, though each team can take a step closer to doing just that.
With an Oakland win, the Raiders would be two full games ahead of the Chiefs with three to play. A Kansas City victory moves the Chiefs into a tie with the Raiders at 10-3, though the Chiefs would have the tie breaker.
- (LB) Cory James (Shoulder) – Limited Practice
- (DT) Darius Latham (Ankle) – Limited Practice
- (G/T) Kelechi Osemele (Knee) – Limited Practice
- (LB) Shilique Calhoun (Knee) – Did Not Participate
- (S) Karl Joseph (Toe) – Did Not Participate
- (DT) Stacy McGee (Ankle) – Did Not Participate