Three-Phase Thursday: Chiefs Coordinators from The Mothership
"We have some real good returners," Toub said. "We're pretty blessed there; we also have a lot of good players that are buying into everything that we're doing and they're practicing hard and they're making it happen on the field. And, once you score, the same thing happened in Chicago, once you score, it kind of feeds of itself and the guys really start buying in and they want to get them in the end zone. We have three guys that can do it and guys just block a little bit extra harder and it's really paying off for us right now."
One of Toub's returners, Chiefs S
Quintin Dempsdescribed the reason for special teams success in 2013.
"It starts with great coaching and the other ten guys blocking and doing their job," Demps said. "Having a good returner, of course, always pays off. I think we keep getting better. I think we hit a couple of bumps here and there, but I think it's a constant growth. The team is getting better every day."
Inside The Lines: Chiefs vs. Raiders from The Mothership
The Chiefs defense has recorded 15 interceptions through Week 14, returning those interceptions 354 yards, ranking first in the AFC and second in the NFL in team return yards. Kansas City's 23.6 yard per interception return average is second in the NFL.
Eric Berryhas a single-season career-high 3.5 sacks in 2013, which are the most of any defensive back in the NFL and his 26.5 sack yards are the most of any defensive back in the league.
KCChiefs.com Photo Gallery: Chiefs vs. Raiders Series Highlights
KCChiefs.com Video: Focus Points For Week 15
KCChiefs.com Video: Under The Helmet With Dwayne Bowe
KCChiefs.com Video: Preview: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders
The AFC West is back up for grabs too -- sort of. The Chiefs, at 10-3, can tie the Broncos for first place with a win on Sunday in Oakland. The Broncos hold the tiebreaker over Kansas City, but this Broncos' loss means that Denver needs to win out to ensure a division title. That shouldn't be too hard. They close out the season with road games in Houston and Oakland.
Can Rivalries Exist In Modern NFL Era? from Chiefs Spin
"There's a lot at stake for divisional bragging rights," punter Dustin Colquitt said of Sunday's game. "It's a big deal, this is a big thing. I know it's very important for the Hunt family. They're both storied franchises and it's going to be intense. It's important to win this week."
In the meantime, a once-heated Chiefs-Raiders rivalry has steadily dissolved since the turn of the century.
While Baldinger looks back at his playing days against the Raiders with fondness, he said the hype surrounding the matchup will now be pushed by the media.
"I don't know if we'll ever really have the Draconian type of emotions we had in the past with some of these games," Baldinger said. "There will always be rivalries, but it will be more media driven than by the players."
Preview: Chiefs Hope To Build On Solid Performance For Win Over Raiders from The Associated Press via FS Kansas City
"I think that there are ups and downs in the National Football League," coach Andy Reid said. "I think you need to learn how to handle them and you can't get too high for the highs and you can't get too low for the lows.
"When you go through a three-game skid, that's not easy in the National Football League against good teams. You have to trust yourself; you have to trust the guys around you that you're going to fix the problem and that you're going to come to work with a purpose and I thought the guys did that."
Raider's Darren McFadden Unlikely To Play Against Kansas City Chiefs from The San Jose Mercury News
Darren McFadden was absent as practice got underway Thursday, meaning it's likely he won't play against the Kansas City Chiefs and conceivable that he has played his last game as a Raider.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Wednesday, "if he's able to do anything (Thursday), that's a good sign. If not, then he's probably doubtful."
Kansas city Chiefs' Special Teams Becoming Difference Maker from The Associated Press via The Columbia Missourian
The most accurate description of special teams coordinator Dave Toub might be that he's a special teams savant.
He's able to make the rudimentary plays in a football game, kickoffs and punts, seem downright exhilarating. He's able to get guys who'd rather be playing offense or defense to volunteer for kick coverage or a field-goal unit. He's able to coax points out of places they shouldn't be scored.
In fact, what he's helped Kansas City accomplish through its first 13 games has only been matched or exceeded seven times since 1941, and two of those were by units that Toub coached in Chicago: The Chiefs already have two punt return touchdowns and two kickoff return touchdowns.
Raiders Announce Sellout vs. Chiefs from ESPN
For those keeping score at home, the Raiders will have now televised locally 71 home games, with 80 blackouts, since returning to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995 after 13 seasons in Southern California. And since taking over ticket sales in 2006, the Raiders have sold out 42 of 63 home games.
Having a pair of kickoff returners is an advantage for the Chiefs beyond just depth in case of an injury. Davis returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown two weeks against theDenver Broncos. Demps brought one back 95 yards for a score last week against the Redskins.
"It creates problems for the other team," Toub said. "They have different styles. Quintin likes to press the edges and look for the cutbacks. Knile can probably do that, too, but he can hit it right up the field and he runs so hard and so strong with his knees up, running back-style, that he's really hard to tackle that way."
Texans May Better KC's Turnaround from ESPN
They still have plenty of playmakers on offense. They also have one of the game's most dominant defensive players in end J.J. Watt, who is one year removed from leading one of the league's best units. More than anything, the Texans have the example the Kansas City Chiefs are setting this season. As remarkable as the Chiefs' turnaround has been, the Texans can do far better in 2014.
Kansas City went from 2-14 to its current record of 10-3 by making several savvy moves this past offseason. The Chiefs found the right coach (Andy Reid), the right general manager (John Dorsey), and the right quarterback (Alex Smith) when many wondered how they would transition out of the chaos that was the Scott Pioli era. The result was a team that opened this season with nine consecutive wins.
Coach Allen Talks Chiefs, Injuries, More from Raiders.com
Q: How much was Denarius able to do?
Coach Allen: "I thought he moved around pretty good. I haven't had a chance to talk to him after practice to see how he was feeling, but I thought he did some pretty good things out there and was able to be functional. It's a matter of how does he respond tomorrow and if he continues to respond positively, then I think there's a chance he could be available Sunday."
Thursday's injury report revealed an ankle injury to Dexter McCluster, who did not practice.
If McCluster isn't available to play Sunday against the Raiders in Oakland, the Kansas City Chiefs could survive without him as a slot receiver. He is third on the Chiefs with 46 catches but Junior Hemingway has played well there in his limited opportunities.
Oakland Raiders Hope For Fresh Defense from The Contra Costa Times
Fatigue is a factor over the course of an NFL season, although it's tough to get a coach to admit it.
The Raiders' Dennis Allen has referred to his defense as "worn down" after each of the last two games, most recently after a 37-27 loss to the New York Jets.
With the 10-3 Kansas City Chiefs coming to O.co Coliseum on Sunday, Allen has altered the practice schedule in hopes of the defense getting its legs back.
More Evidence Of Charles' Brilliance from ESPN
Here's the company running back Jamaal Charles will keep by having another big game on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs play against the Raiders in Oakland: LaDainian Tomlinson, O.J. Simpson, Shaun Alexander, Priest Holmes, Emmitt Smithand Eric Dickerson.
Those are the NFL running backs who had at least 100 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown in 11 of a season's first 14 games. Charles has done it 10 times in Kansas City's first 13 games.
Kansas City has been a pretty solid road team this year, losing only in Denver thus far. The Chiefs also are fresh off one of their best performances of the season. It's not hard to see why they're 10-3, given that they don't give up the ball; Kansas City leads the league with a plus-15 turnover differential. The Raiders, meanwhile, are at minus-3. The Chiefs also have the best starting field position in the NFL, which takes some of the load off Alex Smith. Speaking of, that's precisely what the Raiders need to do for Matt McGloin: Take a load off, so that the Kansas City pass rush doesn't eat him alive. Oakland has been maddeningly inconsistent; we're not expecting the good Raiders to show up and steal this game.
NFL Week 15 Cheat Sheet: Controversy Seems To Be Recipe For Wins from FOX Sports
Kansas City at Oakland: I did an interview earlier this week and said the Raiders could give the Chiefs a real scare this weekend. Well, I just watched the Chiefs-Redskins tape. I take it all back. Kansas City's offense is downright simmering. Even in their three losses leading up to the game, Alex Smith was playing well. I've never seen him so confident, so focused, and so wildly successful. Everyone's written off Kansas City after the two Denver losses, but this team's got the goods. Watch out.
The Pick: Chiefs 34, Raiders 20