Week 8: Raiders-Chiefs preview

The SportsXchange

Oakland at Kansas City

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City - TV: CBS; DirecTV: 713

*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots

*Keys to the game: The Raiders' pass defense has been under siege all season, but can Kansas City take advantage? The Chiefs have received poor quarterback play and have opted to start Brady Quinn over turnover-prone Matt Cassel. RB Jamaal Charles has been the offense, but he'll have to get his yards against stacked fronts until Quinn proves he can do more damage to opponents than to his offense. Bruising RB Peyton Hillis could also return from an ankle injury this week to lend support. Defense was supposed to be the Chiefs' calling card under head coach Romeo Crennel; it has been anything but with Kansas City allowing 30.5 points per game. The improvement needs to start with a run defense allowing 4.7 yards per carry. Raiders RB Darren McFadden continues to produce lackluster numbers in the Raiders' zone-blocking scheme. The result has been far too many long passing downs and three-and-outs for the sporadic offense. The Chiefs' pass rush is the one area that has shown some improvement through six games.

*Matchup to watch - Raiders RT Willie Smith vs. Chiefs LOLB Justin Houston: The Chiefs have been searching for a complement to Tamba Hali, and Houston has emerged with a team-leading 6.0 sacks. Smith was signed after playing for Washington last season. He replaced an injured Khalif Barnes and held onto the job, but has struggled against strong pass rushers and is also trying to fend off rookie Tony Bergstrom for the job.

*Player spotlight - Chiefs NT Dontari Poe: After playing 45 percent of the defensive snaps through the first three games, the first-round pick has played 75 percent over the past three games despite Kansas City getting healthier along the defensive line.

*Fast facts: The Raiders have a five-game winning streak at Kansas City. ... The Chiefs have not held a lead during any of their six games. Their lone victory game with a field goal in overtime.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Raiders have shown signs of being a more competitive team from week to week, but suffer from too many mental mistakes and turnovers. If the Chiefs can keep the game close and rely on a ball-control offense, expect a focused effort coming out of the bye week.

*Our pick: Chiefs 24-23
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