It feels good to be able to say that again. The Chiefs and Raiders have been absolute shit recently, and as such their rivalry has been put on hold. Yes, I know neither one of them are really any good and that their success so far is mostly smoke and mirrors, but the fact that these two teams are playing a game in week 9 that actually MEANS SOMETHING for a change, well, it's kinda cool. That said, fuck Kansas City. Fuck Lamar Hunt's corpse. Fuck Len Dawson. Fuck Christian Okoye. Fuck the ghost of Derrick Thomas. Fuck the spirit of Hank Stram. Fuck Will Shields. Fuck Neil Smith. Fuck Priest Holmes. Fuck Deron Cherry. Fuck Stephone Paige. Fuck Albert Lewis. Fuck Percy Snow. Fuck Kevin Ross. Fuck Art Still. Take all of their stupid asses and load them onto a bus, then have a suicidal mother ghost ride that bitch into a lake. It's KC week, mother fucker.
OK, now that I got that out of my system I'd like to say this: The Raiders probably won't win this game. Here's the fact of the matter: The Raiders secondary is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay shitty once you remove Nnamdi from the equation. A lot of my fellow Raider fans are letting our minimal success go to their heads and are making grand statements like MICHAEL HUFF WILL BE FINE AT CORNER! or STANFORD ROUTT WILL SHUT DWAYNE BOWE DOWN! forgetting that both Huff and Routt are terrible. Routt draws 2 or 3 flags each week, usually on 3rd down when the defense is about to get off the field. Huff still cannot tackle and constantly gets beat deep after taking horrible angles. Neither one inspires any confidence in me, and if Nnamdi ends up missing the game there's a good chance the Raiders will get boat raced.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Raiders are impossible to figure out. Last week they looked like the same clueless team that couldn't get in the end zone against San Francisco. Hue Jackson's idiotic play calling of MCFADDEN UP THE MIDDLE FOR TWO YARDS, MCFADDEN UP THE MIDDLE FOR TWO YARDS, INCOMPLETE PASS, PUNT had me thinking that they were going to once again piss the momentum of a huge win the week before down their collective legs. Then they came out in the second half and wrecked shop. Darren McFadden is the key to making their attack work. He is the one guy they have who is a reliable threat. The biggest difference with him this year is that he's not dancing around the hole. He's making one cut, getting to the edge and running behind his pads. He has absolutely laid out some big hitters this year. Yet for some reason Hue insists on running him up the middle 6-7 times before he realizes that he isn't a sledgehammer like Michael Bush and starts running him outside, where he makes plays. His health is the linchpin for the Raiders success. With him, they can score. Without him, they're screwed. Marcel Reece has also been a huge weapon at fullback, something they haven't had in a long time. He might be the fastest fullback in the NFL.
The offensive line, while it has performed better recently, is still very much a work in progress. They seem to have finally given up on Mario Henderson, which is in everyones best interest. As inconsistent as Jared Veldheer is, he's light years ahead of Mario. Robert Gallery is playing hurt, and last week he had 3 penalties. Samson Satele has been OK, but has a tendency to get hurt. Cooper Carlisle and Langston Walker are walking abortions. They've been using Khalif Barnes as a pass eligible tight end a lot lately, and have a weird ass formation where he lines up at left guard and they move the left tackle over next to the right tackle in an effort to over stack the line on one side. The formation seems to work, and they use it 3 or 4 times a week. If you can't impress them with talent, dazzle them with bullshit, I guess.
Darrius Heyward-Bey FINALLY broke off a big play. He is a strange guy to figure out. He looked like Tim Brown in his prime against the Rams, and was pretty much M.I.A. since then. With Louis Murphy out and Chaz Shillens yet to play a down this year, the receiving corps is stretched pretty thin. Nick Miller is banged up, which means we could see a lot of Jacoby Ford or Johnnie Lee Higgins. TE Zach Miller is questionable and left the Seattle game early on, and if he's a no go they'll have to start butter fingered Brandon Myers, or "Not Zach" as I dubbed him last year. The problem is, Not Zach is coming back from an injury himself, and the Raiders only carry two TE's. I don't see the wideouts or tight ends playing a big part this week.
If the Raiders are going to win this game they absolutely must get in Matt Cassel's face. The last two weeks they have killed Kyle Orton and Matt Hasselbeck. Coordinator John Marshall has abandoned his vanilla play calling and is now bringing the heat from every direction. Kamerion Wimbley, Matt Shaughnessy, Richard Seymour, Lamarr Houston and even the much maligned Tommy Kelly have been absolutely crushing bitches. Rolando McClain is getting better each week, and Quentin Groves has been way better than advertised. Wimbley looks like he's finally going to fulfill his promise he showed as rookie for the Browns back in '06. This is the main difference from last season, they actually have a game plan on defense, and the talent to make it work. If anything, the play from the d-line and linebackers has helped cover up the secondary's short comings.
Jason Campbell has had two good games in a row, and Tom Cable still says Bruce Gradkowski will be the starter when he's healthy. I guess Cable isn't willing to forget the Tennessee, St. Louis and San Francisco games, either. I really have no idea who the real Jason Campbell is, but if he's capable of playing anything at all like he has in the last two games, you'd be an idiot to sit him. He's getting more time in the pocket and actually has shown the ability to move around and avoid sacks. He hasn't developed a bond with any of his receivers yet, but he's more than happy to throw it to Zach, DMC or Reece.
So things are possibly looking up here in Raiderville. Or not. We really have no idea what we have yet. All I know is the last two weeks they have looked like a different team from the one who shit the bed against the Titans and 49ers. Hell, if they made one more play against Houston and if Seabass makes a chip shot against Arizona, we're looking at a 6-2 team. Are they really that good? I doubt it, but I'd love for them to prove me wrong.