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AFC West mailbag

A Happy New Year mail call:

Jerry from San Jose wants to know what have been some of the most telling statistical tales of the Raiders this season.

Bill Williamson: Let’s start with the good. The Raiders have an explosive running game. Oakland, which is ranked No. 2 in the NFL in rushing behind Kansas City, leads the NFL with 24 runs of 20-plus yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Darren McFadden leads all NFL players with 14 20-plus-yard runs. This is a major reason the Raiders’ point totals are way up. Now, the not-so good. The Raiders are being called for way too many penalties. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Oakland has been flagged a league-high 156 times and there has been a league-high 138 accepted penalties against the Raiders. I know the Raiders won seven games this season with penalty issues, but they also lost eight games. No team can win consistently with all those penalties. Also, it's a good thing Oakland has Jacoby Ford, because 2009 No. 1 draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey looks like a dud. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he has caught just 26 of 61 targets with five drops this season. The Raiders promised we’d see big strides this season from the No. 7 overall pick last year. All we’ve seen is the occasional flash buried in long periods of him disappearing. It’s time to focus on Ford and not Heyward-Bey, regardless of their paychecks.


Mike from Kansas City wants to know if the Chiefs could pursue Denver cornerback Champ Bailey in free agency.

BW: I don’t think so. I think Chiefs are happy with Brandon Carr playing opposite of Brandon Flowers. Replacing a young, improving corner with someone who will be 33 next season is an iffy move, no matter how special Bailey is. I think if the Chiefs decide to write a big check it would be for a receiver or a front-seven defender.


Victor from Carson, Calif., wants to know what team do I think will be the best matchup for the Chiefs in the wild-card round.

BW: Kansas City is either going to host New York, Baltimore or Pittsburgh depending on how Week 17 plays out. The Chiefs’ biggest strength is their running game. Kansas City is ranked No. 1 in the NFL. However, all three of their potential wild-card matchups are stout against the run. The Steelers are ranked No. 1 against the run, then Ravens are No. 4 and the Jets are No. 5. Defensively, Kansas City is better against the run than the pass. All three potential opponents have better run games than pass games. The Chiefs are 7-0 home and all three potential opponents have winning records on the road. The Chiefs will have their work cut out for them against all three opponents. But that’s OK. That’s what the playoffs are all about. It’s not supposed to be easy.