Chiefs-Raiders Preview

Battling through a dismal season on and off the field, one of
the Kansas City Chiefs’ few positives has come in the form of
inspirational performances from the player possibly affected the
most by the recent tragic events.

Jamaal Charles likely hopes to get more opportunities to shine
against the Oakland Raiders this time around.

Riding three consecutive 100-yard games, Charles looks to help
guide Kansas City to its ninth victory in its last 10 visits to
Oakland without top receiver Dwayne Bowe when these AFC West rivals
meet Sunday.

Not only did Charles lose a teammate in the Jovan Belcher
murder-suicide Dec. 1, but his wife’s cousin, Kasandra Perkins, was
the victim. Despite the tragedy, ensuing memorial services, wakes
and funerals, Charles has managed to stay focused while not
speaking publicly.

Charles, who leads the AFC with 1,220 rushing yards, ran for 127
in Kansas City’s 27-21 victory over Carolina one day after the
Belcher incident, following up a 107-yard effort in a loss to
Denver one week earlier.

He scampered for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of last
Sunday’s 30-7 loss to Cleveland, finishing with 165 yards for the
struggling Chiefs (2-11).

”I think it speaks to the character of him as a man, how he’s
able to have an optimistic perspective despite all the things he’s
been through right now,” said Brady Quinn, who completed only 10
of 21 passes for 159 yards and an interception against the Browns.
”It really speaks to who he is as man.”

Charles last rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games
during the last four weeks of the 2009 season. To match that mark
he’ll have to overcome a Raiders defense likely focused on stopping
the run with Bowe missing the rest of the season with injured
ribs.

“We’ve leaned on him all year,” coach Romeo Crennel said of
Charles. ”He’s been the consistent staple in our offense. We kind
of lean on him.”

It hasn’t been quite all season as Crennel suggested, seeing as
Charles had only five carries and caught three passes for a total
of 10 yards in a 26-16 loss to Oakland on Oct. 28 – a surprising
development Crennel explained only by saying, ”Now, that I’m not
exactly sure, either.”

Raiders coach Dennis Allen doesn’t foresee Charles playing such
a limited role this time around, though, as Charles has rushed for
at least 100 yards in four of the six games since that contest.

“I would think that they would turn around and hand the ball off
to him. He’s one of the more explosive players in the league,”
Allen said. “I would anticipate they would try to get him the
ball.”

Oakland, which has lost six straight since beating the Chiefs,
and Kansas City each are allowing 131.2 rushing yards per game –
tied for 26th in the NFL – and the Raiders (3-10) hope to get some
production from their top back as well.

Darren McFadden, who ran for a season-high 114 yards in the
first meeting, rushed 11 times for 52 yards before tweaking his
already injured right ankle in the fourth quarter of last
Thursday’s 26-13 loss to Denver.

He had missed the previous four games with the injury, but the
long layoff has given McFadden time to heal. He’s expected to play
Sunday, and defensive end Richard Seymour, who has missed the last
five games after suffering a Grade 2 hamstring tear against Tampa
Bay on Nov. 4, also could be ready to go.

“I thought he looked well and yeah, I think there’s a good
chance he’s going to play this week,” Allen said.

Linebacker Rolando McClain was reinstated Monday after serving a
two-game suspension following an argument with Allen at practice
Nov. 28. A team that’s allowing a league-worst 30.9 points per game
can use all the defensive help it can get, especially facing
Charles.

Allen, though, is aware Oakland also is building for the future
with 2012 being a lost season. He said younger players will see
more time over the final three games, including former Ohio State
star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who has yet to take an official
NFL snap in his two seasons.

”All of us, as competitors, we want to win,” Allen said. ”But
I also understand, and I’ve got a big-picture view of what I want
this football team to look like. We’ve got to prepare for the
future.”

Both Charles and McFadden were out with injuries for Kansas
City’s 28-0 victory Oct. 23, 2011, in the most recent meeting in
Oakland.