Raiders-Chiefs: Matchups to watch


Raiders-Chiefs: Matchups to watch

KANSAS CITY -- In one of the more stunning developments in the 2011 NFL season, all four AFC West teams are still alive in the division title race.Consider this game, then, a de facto elimination game. Because while the 6-8 Chiefs' best hope is for a multi-team tie at 8-8, the 7-7 Raiders' most clear-cut path to the playoffs is to win out and hope for Kansas City to beat Denver in that season finale.First things first, though. The Raiders lose to the Chiefs, and Oakland is essentially eliminated from the division race.The return game of this division rivalry has a much different look than the first. Both teams will start different quarterbacks this time around in Carson Palmer and Kyle Orton, Darren McFadden was actually hurt in that first game and the Chiefs are playing for a new interim coach in Romeo Crennel after Todd Haley was shown the door last week.
And while the Raiders defense has been lit up like, well, both a Christmas tree and a Menorrah of late, the pressure is on Oakland's offense to step up and take the game out of its defense's hands.A look, then, at some key on-field matchups to watch Saturday morning from Arrowhead Stadium:Raiders running back Michael Bush (29) vs. Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (56).TALE OF THE TAPE
Bush: 6-1, 245, Louisville, fourth season
Johnson: 6-3, 242, Texas, seventh seasonBush averages 5.8 yards every time he carries the ball against the Chiefs.Johnson's 119 tackles ranks 10th in the NFL.Surely their paths will cross early and often. And whoever gets the better of those battles and imposes their will should tilt momentum in his team's favor. The Chiefs are focused on Bush."Well, hes big, he runs hard, he's fast, and when you get him to the second level, he's extremely hard to tackle," said Kansas City interim coach Romeo Crennel. "He can catch also. I forgot to mention that. He's the total package."At least, he has been when he's faced Kansas City.In six career games against the Chiefs, Bush is averaging 82.8 rushing yards per game and in his last two games against them, he has a combined 236 rushing yards on 42 carries, including the 137-yards-on-25-carries afternoon he had in last year's season finale on January 2 at Arrowhead Stadium. He's also caught six passes for 43 yards against the Chiefs in his career."I personally like playing in their stadium," said Bush, who is 159 yards away from a 1,000-yard rushing season after replacing Darren McFadden on Oct. 23. "Their fans are always loud and against you and hostile, and I love it."It's the same team we faced last year, the same team we faced a couple of weeks ago, and we just got to slow down 91 (Tamba Hali) and 56 (Johnson) and get them to play our game."Bush was limited this week in practice with a sore shoulder.Other matchups worth watching: Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) vs. Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers (24) -- The last time Palmer faced the Chiefs, really, he had no business being on the field. It was in that Oct. 23 game at the Coliseum and Palmer had just been acquired from Cincinnati in a Tuesday trade. The most football he had seen in the fall up to that point was after tailgating at his alma mater in USC.And yet, Palmer was thrown into the game, trailing 21-0, and proceeded to throw three interceptions, including a 58-yard pick-six to Flowers."It was like he was just trying to play backyard football," Flowers said."I was very surprised (he played). I know how hard it is to play quarterback in this league. For him to just go in so quick, not knowing all the plays and the speed of the receivers, you know, you can't get that down in one or two days. It's going to take at least a week, so I was very surprised he came in the first time."SInce then, Palmer has seemingly settled into the role, even as his overthrows of Denarius Moore and Chaz Schilens against Detroit on Sunday were costly.Palmer completed 80 percent of his passes (32 of 40) for 367 yards and a touchdown without an interception in the Raiders' 28-27 loss to the Lions."I thought we did a good job last week executing," Palmer said. "Guys did a good job fighting to get open, pass protection against a really good defensive line was great. That's what I expect and that's something that we just need to grow off of and keep getting better offensively, keep finding ways to get completions, keep finding ways to sneak some run yards here and there and reverses and screens and misdirection-type things."The Chiefs defense, though, presents a unique challenge."Both corners are really good, really physical, fast," Palmer said. "Their safeties are rangy. And then they've got Tamba Hali on one side and a bunch of good pass rushers around him. So it's just a really good unit, top to bottom."The magic of video also had Flowers singing praises."They look more polished," said Flowers, who also picked off Kyle Boller in that 28-0 Chiefs victory in October. "Carson Palmer (has) had time to get his timing routes down with the receivers. You could see they're really starting to jell as an offense and you can tell the chemistry is starting to come along, rather than when Carson Palmer played the first time."Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer (68) vs. Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali -- OK, so, you've heard about Hali in each of the previous two matchups to watch. That's how disruptive a force the 6-3, 275-pounder can be in a game.Heck, he took a shot at Palmer's knee in this first meeting this year, the first time Palmer dropped back to pass, on the first snap Palmer took as a member of the Raiders.Players have long memories and the 6-8, 315-pound Veldheer's weekly challenge is to defend his quarterback's blind side from the opposing team's most fearsome pass rusher. Hali and his 12 sacks, which rank eighth in the NFL, is simply Veldheer's most recent assignment."He is a very gifted player," Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders said of Hali. "He has tremendous quickness, he has a variety of pass-rush moves. Some guys are generally inside rushers or they're bull rushers or they're swim rushers. He has all the tools. And they do a good job of placing him in a lot of different places."He plays on the weak side, he plays on the strong side. He'll play inside sometimes. He has a great knack and he is just a tremendous effort player."Hali has forced two fumbles in his last two games and has four sacks in his past four games against the Raiders.

Lynch sits, others kneel, raise fist during national anthem


Lynch sits, others kneel, raise fist during national anthem

OAKLAND -- Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat down during the national anthem prior to Saturday's preseason game versus the Los Angeles Rams, as he did the week before at Arizona. 

Lynch hasn't addressed his reason for sitting during the national anthem, an action several others have used to protest racial issues and the mistreatment of minorities in this country. He has sat intermitently during his career, while standing at attention and remaining in the locker room at others. 

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick popularized the movement last year by kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner. Lynch was retired in 2016, but voiced support for Kaepernick in an interview with Conan O'Briend. 

Lynch wasn't the only Raider making a gesture during the anthem. Rookie safety Shalom Luani kneeled during part of the song. Quarterback Derek Carr placed his hand on Khalil Mack's shoulder during the song. Bruce Irvin had his fist in the air. 

Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett has been vocal about his protest while sitting through the anthem twice in as many preseason games. 

Raiders' Sean Smith charged with assault

Raiders' Sean Smith charged with assault

Raiders cornerback Sean Smith has been charged with assault, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday.

The charge is for assault of his sister's boyfriend in Smith's hometown of Pasadena. Smith allegedly beat and stomped the boyfriend's head on the morning of July 4, 2017 in Old Town Pasadena, the district attorney said.

Smith faces formal felony counts of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury to the victim.

The 30-year old plans to fight the charges levied against him. 

"Sean maintains his innocence at this time," Smith's attorney, Daniel Rosenberg told NBC Sports Califorinia on Thursday evening. "We are going to be entering a plea of not guilty and fighting these charges."

A warrant was filed on Aug. 16. Smith's arriagnment is scheduled for Sept. 29. 

Smith was not present at Thursday's Raiders practice, the last session of training camp. He surrendered to Los Angeles County authorities, posted an $80,000 bond and has been released from custody.

If convicted as charged, Smith could face a maximum sentence of seven years in California prison. 

A Raiders spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The case is still under investigation by the Pasadena Police Department. 

This is another blow in a rough summer for Smith. He has struggled on the practice field during training camp and faces an off-field legal issue. Smith is guaranteed $9.5 million for the 2017 season. 

More to come...