Raiders-Chiefs matchups to watch

Raiders-Chiefs matchups to watch
October 22, 2011, 6:33 pm
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ALAMEDA -- Carson Palmer, or Kyle Boller? Kyle Boller, or Carson Palmer?No, we're not talking about rising senior quarterbacks in the old Pac-10 back in 2002. We're dishing about the main talking point heading into Sunday's Oakland-Kansas City game -- who starts at quarterback for the Raiders.A more prescient question, though, may be, who gets the majority of the snaps?And even then, the most pressing topic of the day might be surrounding the status of injured record-setting placekicker Sebastian Janikowski.A look, then, at some key on-field matchups to watch Sunday afternoon:Raiders cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke (23) vs. Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82)TALE OF THE TAPEVan Dyke: 6-1, 180, Miami, rookieBowe: 6-2, 221, LSU, fifth seasonGenerally, Bowe lines up on the same side of the field as Stanford Routt. But with Routt being given the Nnamdi Asomugha Treatment thus far (teams are tending to shy away from him), we have a sneaky suspicion the Chiefs might move Bowe around to test out the rookie Van Dyke.Especially since Bowe enjoys a 41-pound weight advantage."He's a big guy, man, physical guy," Van Dyke said. "He's from Miami, same place I'm from, so I know he's a great player."I got to step up to the plate. He's a great receiver; I'm a great cornerback."At least Van Dyke, who weighs 180 pounds soaking wet and with rocks in his pockets, is not lacking in confidence. Because when the top receivers in the league are discussed, names like Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson roll off the tongue. Bowe, with his unusual combination of bulk and speed that has resulted in 23 catches for 420 yards and four touchdowns in five games this season?"They'd better talk about him," said Raiders coach Hue Jackson. "The guy can play and he makes plays. He's a big athletic receiver with strong hands who can run with the ball after the catch who's had some very dominant football players in this league, so he is a problem for us."We're going to have to make sure we contain him and know where he is at all times. But he's a really, really good football player."And another potential test for Van Dyke."I was going against Chaz (Schilens) some this week in practice and he's a big, physical guy," Van Dyke said, "so hopefully, I do O.K. on Sunday."Other matchups worth watching:
Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) vs. Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) -- With so much relative uncertainty as to who will be under center for the Raiders, the focus turns again to the league's leading ground-gainer in McFadden, who has rushed for 610 yards on 111 carries.Thing is, if the Raiders quarterback cannot establish a decent passing game, the Chiefs will simply flood the box and dare McFadden to beat them by himself.And with McFadden more dangerous in open space and creating around the edges, that's where he might run into the rookie Houston, literally and figuratively."I have to come in and step up," McFadden said. "I feel like Carson has been doing a great job with the huddle. He has to get the plays down, but for the most part he's been doing good."Then there's the Boller situation, seeing as how he has been in the system for a few years already and developed a chemistry."He knows the offense and he knows the receivers and has the timing down with those guys so that's one of the things that's going to be (important). We have confidence in him so that's not going to be a problem."Might it be one, though, for Houston, a third-round draft pick from Georgia?Chiefs coach Todd Haley vs. memory of Al Davis -- We're joking here, somewhat, but Haley's lone personal encounter with the late Raiders owner is worth discussing again.It was at the Combine early in Haley's coaching career when Davis summoned the young coach over and asked to look at the cap he was wearing."I handed him the hat, of course," Haley recounted this week. "It was nothing special. It was like a New York Jets hat. He looked at it, studied it, looked inside it, outside, said, 'Thank you, coach,' and he handed it back."To this day, Haley has no idea what Davis wanted with his headgear.Might that memory creep back into Haley's noggin just long enough to distract him against the Raiders?Probably not. But it's still a good story.