Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Chiefs matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m., at Arrowhead Stadium
[MATCHUP NO. 3: Barnes vs. Hali]
Raiders RB Darren McFadden vs. Chiefs NT Dontari Poe
Tale of the tape:
McFadden (20): 6-foot-1, 218 pounds, sixth season, Arkansas
Poe (92): 6-foot-3, 346 pounds, second season, Memphis
Darren McFadden likes to run downhill, between the tackles. The Raiders running back hits the line at full speed, counting on gap control or physical strength to break on through.
Doesn’t always work. Sometimes it produces a few yards. Over time, it starts producing a lot more. And, when McFadden finds open space, long runs come in bunches.
That’s going to be tough against the NFL’s most athletic young nose tackle. Dontari Poe is a beast, a run stopper/pass rusher with athleticism that belies his size. He can fight through double teams and make plays in the backfield. He torments opposing rushers and is one of a precious few every-down nose tackles.
“He creates a lot of problems in a lot of different areas,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “He has 4.5 sacks too, so this guy is a heck of a player inside and he’s a big, physical guy as well as being athletic. We’ll have our hands full inside with Poe.”
The Raiders will try to push Poe aside and create rushing lanes for McFadden, which will be crucial if the Raiders are to compete. The Chiefs rank No. 21 against the run and give up 115 yards per game. Three of McFadden's 13 career 100-plus yard rushing days have come against the Chiefs, and he always seems to give them fits.
That was before Poe’s emergence as an interior run stopper.
“I think you’re always looking at matchups when you’re trying to game plan, and that’s a tough one,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “We’re very aware of their defensive line and linebackers. There are not a lot of holes in their defense, but we are certainly aware of matchups inside.”
This matchup extends to guards Lucas Nix and Mike Brisiel and center Andre Gurode, who will play for injured starter Stefen Wisniewski. It’s impacted by McFadden’s health after a hamstring strained two weeks ago. He hasn’t reach full speed yet. He’ll wait until Sunday to do that, when he’ll try to play a crucial AFC West foe with a difficult defense.
[RELATED: Raiders injury report: McFadden questionable]
“I feel pretty good,” McFadden said. “I’m going out there and do whatever I can do.”