|AFC West Rivals Clash in Oakland as Raiders Host Chiefs in Week 13|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 26 November 2008 15:55|
AFC West Matchup
Running the ball, however, is one of the few things the Raiders have been able to do well this season.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Raiders -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Raiders -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Coming off perhaps their best effort of the season, the Raiders look to snap a five-game home losing streak against the Chiefs when the AFC West rivals meet on Sunday.
Oakland (3-8) hasn't beaten Kansas City (1-10) at home since a 24-0 victory on Dec. 28, 2002. The Raiders have averaged 14.6 points and 74.0 yards rushing during that skid.
Though Oakland is suffering through another lost season, it has been one of the league's best rushing teams. With 122.5 yards rushing per game, the Raiders rank 10th in the NFL in that category.
Oakland ran for 300 yards in a 23-8 win at Kansas City on Sept. 14. That was the third-highest rushing total allowed by the Chiefs in franchise history.
Last Sunday, the Raiders ran for 158 yards en route to a 31-10 win over AFC West-leading Denver. Justin Fargas had 107 yards rushing and rookie Darren McFadden added 38 while finding the end zone twice.
McFadden rushed for a career-high 164 yards versus the Chiefs in September.
"They've got two big punishing backs and their offensive line is very good," Kansas City coach Herm Edwards said. "They run their scheme very well. They've got some good receivers but their game is run the ball. They're going to try to pound you that way."
Edwards and the lowly Chiefs will face a Raiders team that snapped a four-game losing streak and gained some much-needed confidence with a win over a division leader.
"It was huge," Oakland coach Tom Cable said. "You could even feel it on the sideline. It's something we've been thirsting for. It felt like the weight of the world was lifted off our shoulders."
Johnnie Lee Higgins' 89-yard punt return for a touchdown gave the Raiders their first score.
While the running game has been consistent, the Raiders had hoped for more from their returners. Higgins, in particular, had been a disappointment, but has broken out the last two weeks.
His 93-yard TD return against Miami on Nov. 16 ended a three-game touchdown drought for Oakland.
"I always look at myself as a playmaker," he said. "That's the thing my coaches always tell me, don't go out there and find the play, let the game come to you."
Higgins, a third-round pick in 2007, was expected to give Oakland's return game a boost. Instead, he ended up losing his job midway through his rookie season because he couldn't hold onto the ball.
He averaged 5.2 yards on 20 returns with four fumbles in 2007, and wasn't doing much better this season before the long return against the Dolphins.
Higgins is certain to get plenty of attention from the Chiefs as they try to bounce back from a terrible defensive performance. Kansas City lost 54-31 to Buffalo last Sunday, allowing the most points in team history.
The previous high against the Chiefs was 51 in an overtime loss at Seattle in 1983. Kansas City, allowing 29.7 points per game, has an NFL-low six sacks.
"I just think it's a bunch of young guys and when you're in a rut you're in a rut," Edwards said. "We've been in a rut not sacking the quarterback. Now, I think the last couple of weeks we've put more pressure on him. We've hit him more and that's a good sign. But we've got to get him down."
The Chiefs have lost 19 of their last 20, by far the worst stretch in franchise history. Kansas City had made some strides in its previous four games, but suffered a setback versus Buffalo.
Tyler Thigpen, who went 161 passes without an interception until getting one picked off against New Orleans on Nov. 16, threw two interceptions and had one of the Chiefs' three lost fumbles last week.
One of the few bright spots for Kansas City against the Bills was Tony Gonzalez, who had 10 catches for 113 yards and set a tight end record with his 25th 100-yard receiving game. Gonzalez scored the Chiefs' only TD against the Raiders earlier this season.
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Posted: 11/25/08 8:56PM ET