Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Radiers: Three Key Matchups

Russell FikeCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 2:  Dwayne Bowe #82 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after catching a pass for a touchdown during the first half of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arrowhead Stadium November 2, 2008 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders

Week Two Key Matchups

Chief’s 3-4 Defense vs. Oakland’s Three-Headed Monster:

Outside of the extreme (i.e. Adrian Peterson), NFL teams are shifting to a multi-back approach.  With complimentary skill sets, Oakland’s dynamic trio of running backs will be a strong test for the Chief’s newly implemented 3-4 defense. 

Darren McFadden is an explosive former top-five pick with great receiving ability, Michael Bush a bruiser, and Justin Fargas an Al Davis guy who hits the hole quickly.  This tireless rotation could be a problem for a Chief’s defense that ranks 31st in the NFL after week one in rushing yards allowed.

The Chiefs may leave themselves vulnerable in the passing game by committing to run blitzes that shoot the gaps and rely on inside linebackers making plays in the backfield.  KC’s outside linebackers will be responsible for containment on stretch and sweep plays as well as covering passes out of the backfield. 

If the linebackers drop into zone do the newly converted linebackers like former defensive end Tamba Hali have the closing speed to close on players like McFadden running to the edges or catching out of the backfield?

Kansas City Return Game vs. Oakland Special Teams:

Raider’s owner Al Davis has long put a premium on acquiring elite special teams players.  Arguably the NFL’s all-time greatest punter, Ray Guy, was an Oakland Raider.  Oakland’s current punter/kicker tandem was paired in 2000 when Davis spent a first-round draft pick on current strong-leg kicker Sebastian Janikowski and a fifth round pick on four time pro bowl punter Shane Lechler. 

In a game that could likely see both offenses struggling for much of the game field position and field goals could decide the outcome.  The return game is a problem unresolved by Kansas City as they evaluated different players through the preseason and week one.

However, with the signing of wide receiver Bobby Wade in the past week the Chiefs may have a formidable return man.  Chiefs head coach Todd Haley insists Wade will only play if he can be utilized in the offense, but after watching returners on a number of NFL teams be unable to field kicks  a savvy, sure-handed return man is appealing.

If you’re not a threat every time you touch the ball as a return man, you better be able to hold onto the ball. 

Dwayne Bowe vs. Nnamdi Asomugha:

A descendant of the Nigerian Igbo tribe, Nnamdi Asomugha also has a monstrous new contract with the Raiders and is regarded as one of the best corners in the NFL.  Kansas City’s talented receiver Dwayne Bowe continues to climb the ranks of NFL receivers and is on the cusp of being anointed an elite player. 

Bowe had a functional, but not electric week one as he put up 40 yards and a touchdown on four catches.  Enough to satiate the demands of fantasy owners, but Bowe is capable of more gaudy numbers and will have explosive weeks, but this may not be one of them. 

The Raiders and their affinity for man coverage will probably have Asomugha shadow Bowe the entire game.  Asomugha is atypically tall for a corner at 6’2, which makes him and Bowe the same height.  Bowe’s involvement in the passing game will be catches for short yardage and potential for yards after the catch.