The Kansas City Chiefs begin the post-LJ era in Oakland against the Raiders on Sunday. Can they pick up their second win of the season? Will Tom Cable break someone’s jaw?
Here are three players (Offense, Defense and Special Teams) from each team to keep your eyes on.
Offense: Matt Cassel
Cassel made his season debut against the Raiders in Week 2 and looked good for most of the day against the Oakland offense. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, it wasn’t all of the day and he was picked off twice by Michael Huff. One of those passes was a nice play by Huff, the other just a terrible throw by Cassel.
With the Kansas City running game still a question mark — even against the poor run defense of the Raiders — there is no better time than this week for Cassel to deliver his first 300 yard passing game with the Chiefs. He has shown a lot of confidence in his newest secondary receivers Lance Long and Chris Chambers, which should allow Dwayne Bowe to take his time trying to figure out CB Nnamdi Asomugha.
Defense: Tyson Jackson
Coming off the best game of his young career, Jackson has a chance to follow that up against a struggling Raiders offense. Everyone knows JaMarcus Russell can not get the job done himself, so that means they will stick with the running game and the Chiefs will have to get the job done on the line and for me that starts with Jackson.
Ron Edwards and Glenn Dorsey will have to do their part as well, but Jackson could show this week that he’s ready to be the leader of this defensive line, something that you rarely see from a rookie in this league.
Special Teams: Dustin Colquitt
How often do you get a matchup with the two best players at a position going head to head? That’s what you’ll see Sunday afternoon in Oakland with Colquitt and Shane Lechler. To force Russell to beat the Chiefs, it’s not only about stopping the run but also making him work with a long field all day.
Colquitt has been great putting the ball inside the 20 and will have to continue that effort against Oakland.
Offense: JaMarcus Russell
Russell was down right putrid Week 2 against the Chiefs. He didn’t get over 100 yards passing until the final drive and — just like most of his season — missed wide open receivers all day long. Last week against the Chargers he had his highest accuracy of the season (63%), but still only finished with 106 yards on the day.
With Kansas City likely to bring pressure all day, can he finally carry the Oakland offense on his back?
Defense: Michael Huff
Nnamdi Asomugha gets all the attention in the Oakland defensive backfield (and rightfully so), but as we’ve seen it’s foolish to ignore Huff. He managed to pick off Cassel twice in their first meeting of the year, but that’s not the only area of the game he’ll impact.
Over the past three games he has averaged over 5 tackles a game as he will provide plenty of help in the running game. Be in Jamaal Charles or Kolby Smith, if the Chiefs can get to the second level, Huff is the man they will have to beat to finally take a run to the house.
Special Teams: Shane Lechler
Meet the man standing between Colquitt and title as “best punter in the NFL”. Lechler has a robotic leg that will almost certainly deliver at least one 70 yard kick against the Chiefs, that’s just what he does. Kansas City has still yet to find a viable punt returner (it was Dantrell Savage last week giving it a shot) and against Lechler whoever gets the call will have to be on their game — and ready to field the ball 15 yards farther back than usual.