Raiders key matchup No. 1: Run defense vs. Jamaal Charles

December 16, 2012, 9:00 am
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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three Raiders-Chiefs matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (CBS), at the Coliseum

Raiders defense vs. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles

Tale of the tape
Raiders run defense: Ranked No. 28 against the run
Jamaal Charles (25): 5-foot-11, 199 pounds, fifth season, Texas

ALAMEDA -- Perhaps the biggest mystery to emerge from the Raiders' 26-16 victory at Kansas City on Oct. 28 was this -- why did Jamaal Charles only carry the ball five times for the Chiefs that day?

Don't bet on that same question being asked after Sunday's rematch.

"Jamaal, he's a guy, when he touches the ball, he's a threat to go all the way," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel told Bay Area reporters on a conference call this week. "He's had two more-than-80-yard touchdown runs this season which has definitely helped us. He's been the consistent guy in the running game. If we can get him the ball, get him a seam and get him to the second level, then he has a chance for a big play."

In his past five games, Charles has averaged 117.2 rushing yards per game. His 1,220 rushing yards lead the AFC and is fifth in the NFL and Charles is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, second only to Adrian Peterson's 6.0-yards average among backs with at least 200 carries.

"His ability to make those plays also helps the mindset of the whole team because they feel good about what he's able to do, feel good about changing field position and feel good about putting points on the board," Crennel added. "The defense feels good about all those things as well. Having him on the team and coming back off the injury is a positive for us."

The Raiders run defense, which has been an Achilles' heel for the better part of a decade, ranks 28th in the NFL. And by the Raiders' definition of an explosive play -- one which gains at least 16 yards via pass or 12 yards by run -- they have surrendered 34 such explosive runs, including seven touchdowns on those plays.

Kansas City had four explosive runs in the last meeting, though none by Charles, who had only four yards that day.

Of course, the Raiders want to keep him bottled up.

"We want him to turn back into the mouth of our defense," said strong safety Tyvon Branch, "and get some hits on him."

Added rookie defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi: "We don't want to find out how fast he is, we want to find out how tough he is."

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