Raiders back in AFC West race after beating Chiefs


Raiders back in AFC West race after beating Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Seems like a long time ago that the Oakland Raiders had lost four of their first five games and were scuffling along at the bottom of the AFC West.

Turns out a lot can change in a couple of weeks.

Especially when you're facing two of the worst teams in the league.

Carson Palmer threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, and the Raiders followed up their overtime win over Jacksonville with a comprehensive 26-16 pasting of the Kansas City Chiefs, their sixth straight win at Arrowhead Stadium.

Suddenly, Oakland (3-4) is a player in the division race.

``Yeah, I feel like our guys have confidence that they can go out and compete, that we can win football games,'' Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. ``Like I told them, this is only important if you're able to go out and win the next one.''

If the Raiders are overflowing with confidence, the Chiefs could fit all of theirs in a teaspoon. They've lost four straight overall and still have not led in regulation this season, the first team since at least 1940 to go this long in a season, according to STATS LLC.

Matt Cassel threw for 218 yards in place of Brady Quinn, who left in the first half with what the team called a ``head injury.'' Quinn had started his second straight game even though Cassel was cleared to play following the concussion he sustained three weeks ago against Baltimore.

``It's unfortunate because I think the guys put a lot into it during the week,'' Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. ``You just have to go forward and do the best you can.''

The Chiefs committed four turnovers to run their league-leading total to 25, and their fourth-quarter touchdown was the first by the offense since Sept. 30 against San Diego.

Jamaal Charles, their biggest offensive weapon, carried only five times for 4 yards.

Why did Charles have so few attempts? ``Now, that I'm not exactly sure, either,'' Crennel said.

While the Chiefs struggled to get their ground game going, Oakland finally did with Darren McFadden. He ran for 114 yards, and in doing so opened up the passing game, allowing Palmer to hit Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey with touchdown throws.

``It took us a while to get it going, but once it finally got going, we finished the game out well,'' McFadden said. ``We feel like with our offense, you just have to stick with it.''

It was the Raiders' first road win since beating the Chiefs last December, and certainly a satisfying one. Sebastian Janikowski was perfect on four field-goal attempts, and the Raiders (3-4) nearly became the third straight team to keep the Kansas City offense out of the end zone.

The Chiefs got their lone touchdown on Dexter McCluster's catch with 2:27 left in the game.

Altogether, it's little wonder that two more banners appeared prior to the game, towed behind an airplane over Arrowhead Stadium. They were paid for by disgruntled Chiefs fans and renewed their plea from earlier this season that general manager Scott Pioli be fired.

The first play of the game pretty much summed up the confrontation between two of the league's lousiest teams: Palmer threw into tight coverage and was intercepted by Stanford Routt.

Naturally, the Chiefs countered by going three-and-out and punting.

The Raiders finally got on the board when Palmer found Moore for a short completion that he turned into a 38-yard gain, and Janikowski connected from 36 yards for a 3-0 lead.

The field-goal struggle was on.

Janikowski hit from 38 yards early in the second quarter, and Ryan Succop matched him with a 30-yarder. Succop hit again from 42 yards late in the half to tie the game.

The Raiders took the lead into halftime when the Chiefs' Javier Arenas fumbled a punt while attempting to make a fair catch. Jon Condo recovered it at the Kansas City 11, and Palmer hit Moore in the back of the end zone on third down to give Oakland a 13-6 lead with 49 seconds left.

The game's circuslike nature continued in the second half.

Cassel fumbled the snap on the first play of the third quarter and the Raiders' Tommy Kelly recovered, but Oakland couldn't manage anything in three plays - two of them woeful throws by Palmer. The Raiders had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Janikowski.

Succop added a 52-yarder later in the quarter to get the Chiefs within a touchdown, but Oakland answered by going 80 yards in just six plays for another score. Palmer picked on Routt the whole way, and his 36-yard touchdown pass to Heyward-Bey gave the Raiders a 23-9 lead.

How bad were things going for Kansas City? Janikowski finally missed a field goal in the fourth quarter, only for Jalil Brown to be called offsides on the play.

Janikowski knocked the redo through with 8:14 left to put the game away.

``You want to wear a defense down,'' McFadden said. ``I feel like we did that today, and eventually we were able to start to get them to break out.''

NOTES: Chiefs RB Nate Eachus left the game with what the team called a ``head injury.'' ... Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson made his 100th career start. ... Palmer has passed for at least 200 yards in 13 straight games, extending a Raiders record.


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The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

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The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

It may be the 18th of March but today could be like Christmas for five Redskins players.

The Redskins decided to use today, four days after the start of the league year, for some contract triggers. In this case, the triggers are all 2018 salary guarantees (some teams will pay out roster bonuses on trigger dates, but the Redskins rarely use that type of structure).

Here are the players whose have guarantees that kick in today 4 p.m. All data is via Over the Cap.


CB Josh Norman, base salary of $13.5 million becomes fully guaranteed—This was a window for the Redskins to move on from Norman if they were not happy with his performance after two seasons. He is 31 and he had no interceptions last season, leaving some to wonder if the Redskins might think about releasing him. But it never was a consideration.

TE Jordan Reed, $8 million of his $8.25 million salary becomes fully guaranteed—No, I’m not sure why they are leaving that $250,000 out there non-guaranteed. Fans thought that the Redskins might move on from Reed due to his injury issues. But, as with Norman, it never was a consideration.

S D.J. Swearinger, $3 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—This is a mere technicality, Swearinger wasn’t going anywhere after helping to solidify the safety position.


RB Chris Thompson, $1.996 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—His rehab is going well and after last year Thompson’s two-year, $7 million contract extension signed last September looks like a good deal for the team.

DE Terrell McClain, $3.25 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—If the Redskins sign a top free agent D-lineman or draft on early in the draft they could be in a numbers crunch. That new acquisition would be guaranteed a roster spot along with Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. That makes five and the Redskins kept six last year. Ziggy Hood is a favorite of the coaching staff but he has no guaranteed money left on his contract. That could tip the sixth spot in favor of McClain if he is on the roster at the close of business today. If they release McClain after today, they would take a cap charge of over $2 million. It seems unlikely that anything will happen but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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