3TFO: Chiefs @ Raiders, Week 15
“With the first pick of the NFL Draft…” may be the fate of this week’s loser between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. It’s never the goal at the beginning of the season, but both AFC West teams are likely to find themselves picking in the Top 5 next April.
The Raiders’ last win came against the Chiefs back in Week 8, but their season has been a relative disaster ever since. Kansas City has won only one game since Week 3, despite coming into the season as a popular pick the win the AFC West. This game will go a long way to determining draft position, as the Chiefs come in at 2-11, while the Raiders are sporting a record of 3-10. NFL players have little interest in losing to ensure a better pick, so expect to see a hard-fought battle between division rivals.
Needless to say, both teams have a lot of roster decisions to make this offseason, but let’s take a look at some of the young talent that will be featured in this game.
Chiefs Running Game vs. Raiders Run Defense
One of the few bright spots for the Chiefs has been the running game, as running back Jamaal Charles currently ranks fifth in the league with 1227 rushing yards. The offensive line has been one of the best and their run blocking efforts have been led by center Ryan Lilja, who moved over from left guard in Week 4. He’s grading at +15.9 as a run blocker between both positions and right tackle Eric Winston has been a nice free agent pickup, also grading well in the run game. As for Charles, he’s not showing the same kind of elusiveness that he displayed in his last full season in 2010 when he ranked 12th among running backs with an Elusive Rating of 37.0 — he’s currently 18th in the league at 18.1.
It looks like a good matchup for Kansas City as the Raiders have been gashed on the ground to the tune of 131 yards per game. Despite the poor numbers, Oakland has received strong play from both defensive ends, Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy. Houston ranks 14th among 4-3 defensive ends in Run Stop Percentage at 6.5, while Shaughnessy is 17th at 6.2. They’ll be called upon to set the edge in order to contain Charles who is second in the league with a Breakaway Percentage of 38.2.
Dontari Poe vs. Stefen Wisniewski
Recent top draft picks will square off as Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe goes up against Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski. Poe was drafted 11th overall this past April while the Raiders used their top selection, albeit a second rounder, on Wisniewski in 2011. Both players are expected to be long-term answers at their respective positions so this could be a featured AFC West battle for years to come.
Despite grading at only -7.1 for the season, Poe got the best of Wisniewski in the running game back in Week 8, beating him for two stops on his way to a season-high five run stops for the game. While Poe is still learning to play a true nose tackle role in Kansas City’s scheme, it’s encouraging that he ranks sixth among defensive tackles in Run Stop Percentage at 8.9. Pass rushing has been a different story, though, as Poe is grading at -4.9 while ranking 28th out of 30 qualifiers with a Pass Rushing Productivity (PRP) rating of 2.7. In the last matchup, he was shut out against Wisniewski, who ranks third among centers in Pass Blocking Efficiency at 99.0.
Eric Berry vs. Brandon Myers
Similar to the Poe vs. Wisniewski matchup, Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry’s battle with Raiders tight end Brandon Myers could be one to watch in the AFC West moving forward. Berry has yet to live up to his lofty expectations as the fifth overall pick of the 2010 draft and it’s mostly because of his inability to keep up with tight ends in coverage. He’s shown improvement in recent weeks, but he’s still grading poorly in coverage, and his 1.22 Yards per Cover Snap is second-worst among safeties. Like Poe, Berry’s development is of utmost importance to Chiefs fans who hope that they don’t fall short of expectations like fellow first-round picks Glen Dorsey and Tyson Jackson.
Berry will be tested in coverage by Myers who has emerged as a reliable weapon in the passing game this season. He’s tied for fifth in Yards per Route Run among tight ends and his 70 receptions are third-most at the position. Like Berry, Myers has holes to his game and his issues have come as a run blocker. He’s yet to grade positively in that department in any game this season, and his -18.8 run block grade is by far the worst in the league among tight ends.
In Berry and Myers, the Chiefs and Raiders have two talented players with clear holes in their respective games. It will be a story line to watch for the last three games to see if both players can shore up their weaknesses heading into next season.
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