The Oakland Raiders are wobbling, staggering against the ropes with a glassy look in their eyes.
Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs have the right hand cocked and ready to deliver the final knockout blow.
The Chiefs can all but eliminate the Raiders from the AFC West Division race tonight by flattening the future Las Vegas team, giving it a fifth straight loss after two impressive wins to open the season.
It’s the weekly prime-time Thursday game when both teams wear the “color rush” uniforms, which means the Chiefs will be in all-red, while the Raiders announced they’ll be in all-white, which is surprising since you’d think they’d be in all-black or all-silver.
No matter the color, the fact of the matter is the Chiefs have won the last five meetings and seven of the last eight. Andy Reid has had the Raiders’ number, even with them having surged the last two years.
There are many concerns, though, if you’re a Chiefs fan. They’re in the middle of an exhaustive five-game gauntlet, having survived in Houston and losing their first game of the year last week at home to Pittsburgh, losing some key players to injuries in the process. After tonight, they’re home to Denver and on the road at Jerry World in Dallas before finally have their bye week that the players probably wish occurred next week.
You have to wonder how the Chiefs will respond after being whipsawed last week. They were Cleveland Browns-like in the first half, yet trailed only 12-3. They worked their way back into the game and just when you thought they had a chance to pull it out, Philip Gaines’ head got in the way of a Ben Roethlisberger pass and the ball bounced into the hands of Antonio Brown, who took it to the house.
The Chiefs could not run the ball at all as Kareem Hunt finally looked like the rookie he is, though it was no fault of his own. KC’s offensive line graded out terribly and it’s starting to look like the team’s weak link.
Also, the Chiefs showed they’re not good against the run and now they have to tame the beast that is Marshawn Lynch. While the former Seahawk has been underwhelming in his return to the NFL, he’s in the spotlight tonight in his hometown and that may inspire him to greatness. Le’Veon Bell utterly torched the Chiefs last week as it seemed as if his body was lathered in grease the way he slipped out of tackle after tackle.
Oakland is going to play with a sense of desperation. It lost a divisional game last week, at home no less, to the Chargers. And KC and Denver also had better keep an eye on the displaced Bolts, who are more than capable despite their record. Kansas City survived them earlier this season as Philip Rivers thought Terrance Mitchell was his No. 1 target and threw him two picks.
For the Raiders, tonight’s game could be as much mental as physical. Carr has been miserable against the Chiefs and he’s not 100 percent. It’s time for the Chiefs to mount a pass rush that has been missing much of the season and make him uncomfortable.
While my head says Oakland is going to stave off elimination with its performance of the year, my heart says the Chiefs will, as they normally do against the Raiders, find a way to get it done — 23-17.