The Kansas City Chiefs were at one time the talk of the NFL. The Chiefs started the season winning their first five games and included in that stretch was a blowout win in New England to start the season. Since week 6 it has been pretty much all downhill for the Chiefs and they now find themselves in a dogfight for first place in the AFC West. The Raiders have not played up to expectations this year but find themselves tied for first and a win here completely changes the Raiders’ season. This is a huge game in the AFC West, so let’s look at the keys to the game…

Has the Raiders defense improved?

Since defensive coordinator Ken Norton was fired, the Raiders defense has played very well. Is it because of a new offensive coordinator or is it because the last two games have been against the Denver Broncos and New York Giants? NaVorro Bowman is another possible factor as to why the Raiders defense has seemed to turn things around. So when looking at all the possibilities, I would say that the Raiders are a much better defensive team and it’s not just the firing of Norton.

Can the Raiders run the ball?

In the last four games, Marshawn Lynch has averaged close to 100 yards rushing a game and the Raiders offensive line has played much better. IF they can run the ball for over 100 yards, the chances of winning in Kansas City go up dramatically for the Raiders.

Can the Chiefs protect QB Alex Smith?

Smith had been in a slump until last week in New York where he played more than good enough to win the game. The Raiders will need big games out of Bruce Irvin, Denico Autry and Khalil Mack who have accounted for eight sacks in the last two games for the Raiders.

Prediction

This will be a hard-fought, close divisional battle that will go down to the last few minutes of the game. I am going with the Raiders’ improved defense to pull it out in the end.

Raiders 31, Chiefs 24

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