Every week we try to get an inside look at the Chiefs' next opponent, and the Oakland Raiders are a team that Chiefs fans are already quite familiar with. Yet this season, the Raiders are clearly feeling the upheaval of a new regime as they begin rebuilding under Reggie McKenzie in the front office.
So what are we supposed to think about the 2012 Raiders? They play the Falcons close. They nearly roll over to the Jags. They're 2-4 and either one game out of first or last. Welcome to the AFC West.
1. The Raiders are coming off of the win over Jacksonville. Does that feel like there's some positive momentum or is the fan base frustrated at this point?
The funny thing is there seemed to be more positivity after loss to the Falcons. Mostly because the Raiders were supposed to have been laughed out of the Georgia Dome and nearly won that game against the best team in the NFL. Then they struggled against the worst team in the NFL. They pulled out the win but had to go to overtime to do it. Everyone expected after the Raiders' playing so well against the Falcons that they would roll over the Jags.
There is not feeling of momentum right now. It's just a game by game thing. The worry now is that the reason for the unexpected play of the Raiders and Jaguars is both teams were coming off bye weeks. Now the Chiefs are coming off a bye week so it figures to be another strange game. The Raiders have plenty of weaknesses and the Chiefs will be prepared to strike at those areas.
2. The Raiders have had the Chiefs number at Arrowhead for the last several years. Does that inspire confidence for yet another year?
It's hard to say how much confidence that inspires. It certainly doesn't feel like going into Foxboro or Lambeau in midwinter. So, there is no feeling of intimidation simply because it is an away game or a hostile environment. But outside of that, there is no confidence with regard to the record the past five years.
3. What's the opinion on Carson Palmer in his first full year with Oakland? Is that a deal worth making all over again?
This is a question I get just about every week. The deal had to be made. There was no way around it. The price was steep but the Bengals held the cards and used them wisely. The Raiders were desperate and had two days to replace Jason Campbell before the trade deadline.
Palmer has played quite well this season. He is on pace for a career best season despite the poor playcalling and lack of a running game. And of late, he has shown he can run the no-huddle as well as any quarterback in football. That is an invaluable skill and one I am sure the Chiefs and their fans can appreciate.
4. You're in year 1 of the Reggie McKenzie/Dennis Allen era. Are the fans confident in the plan they're working out?
Some are, some aren't. It may be too much to expect instant results from McKenzie and Allen. There has been a noticeable difference in certain areas though. Penalties are down for the first time since...ever. The defense is playing well of late and credit goes to both the GM and head coach having defensive backgrounds.
I compare what they have done to what my mom used to do for dinner when I was a kid. We knew there was nothing in the house to eat and yet my mom always conjured up something for dinner. We may not have always like it but the mere fact that it was edible at all considering the circumstances was pretty amazing.
5. What unheralded player should Chiefs fans know about in 2012 who could make a difference on Sunday?
Rookie fourth round pick linebacker Miles Burris has been fantastic. He was forced into a starting role with the injury to Aaron Curry and has locked it down. So much so that while Rolando McClain is coming on and off the field in nickel packages, Burris remains on the field for every play. His play is a real shocker to everyone. He gets better every week and had his first sack last week.
As a bonus I will throw in Mike Goodson who makes at least one big play either running the ball, catching the ball, or as a returner every week. Expect him to jump up and bite the Chiefs for a big gainer a couple times Sunday.
6. Final prediction for us?
I think we will remain cordial as sports journalists after this. Oh wait, did you mean the Raiders and Chiefs? Sorry. I see another game a lot like the Raiders last week against the Jaguars. With a similar result: Raiders 20, Chiefs 16