KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs (7-6) are still alive for a potential playoff appearance and look to avenge a Week 12 loss to the Oakland Raiders (2-11), a team that started the Chiefs’ current three-game slide.
After beating the Chiefs three weeks ago, the Raiders were blown out by the St. Louis Rams the following week before beating the San Francisco 49ers last week.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs have a good shot at making the playoffs by taking care of business and winning their three remaining games.
“We put an emphasis on finishing,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “So now you’re down to the three games and so you put the clutter of the playoffs and all that out of your mind, and you focus in on how you take care of the finish.”
In order to finish strong, the Chiefs must correct the mistakes they’ve made over the last few weeks, something Reid has stressed when studying the Raiders this week.
“You look at the tape and see the things that could’ve been if we take care of a couple of problems,” Reid said. “You have to be real with that. You have to learn from your mistakes in order to do that and be real with that. That’s how we’ll go about it here.”
Linebacker Joe Mays summed up the Chiefs recent play when asked about the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry this week.
“Any given Sunday,” May said. “You can be good one week, you can be bad another. I think the most important thing is we have to be better. Yeah, we know what they can bring. We played them already so we know the type of things that they like to do.”
TALE OF THE TAPE
• The Chiefs rank sixth in rushing offense (128.8 yards per game) and 31st in passing (189.2 yards per game).
• The Raiders have the league’s worst rushing attack (73.5 yards per game) and rank 25th in passing (210.3 yards per game).
• The Chiefs rank 31st in run defense (136.8 yards per game) and have the league’s second-best pass defense (199.0 yards per game).
• The Raiders run defense ranks 24th (127.9 yards per game) and their pass defense ranks 7th (222.9 yards per game).
THE LAST TIME
The Raiders beat the Chiefs in Oakland three weeks ago, 24-20, but the Chiefs still hold a 57-52-2 overall record against their rivals.
The Raiders have won six of the last 10 games against the Chiefs, but the Chiefs are 29-24-1 all-time against the Raiders in Kansas City.
CHARLES BANGED UP
Running back Jamaal Charles missed practice on Wednesday with a knee and ankle injury, but returned to put in a full practice Friday after being limited practice Thursday.
The Chiefs officially list Charles as probable, and coach Andy Reid said Friday he expects to utilize Charles fully.
Charles currently leads the league with 14 touchdowns, and totaled more than 120 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Raiders.
If Charles suffers a setback, the Chiefs’ struggling offense will likely see more of Knile Davis. But the players aren’t worried about potentially missing the team’s biggest weapon.
“(Charles) is an elite, elite player in this league,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “But you’ve got to find a way. Next man up, we’ve got to go.”
The Chiefs have only lost one game this season in which Charles had a rushing touchdown, but tight end Travis Kelce believes the team will be fine.
“Jamaal is a great player,” Kelce said. “I said it once: he is the best in the league at what he does. It will change the gameplan a little bit but at the same time, we’re a team. We have to go on and play with whoever is out there on the field.”
While the Raiders are the only team in the NFL with less than 1,000 rushing yards, the Chiefs run defense is among the league’s worst.
Oakland running back Latavius Murray had no problem totaling two touchdowns and 112 yards rushing on four carries in Week 12 against the Chiefs.
“He’s real good,” Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe said of Murray during Wednesday’s conference call with Raiders beat writers. “Fast, explosive, finds the hole real well. We’ve got to kind of put a hat on him and then try to keep him out of each hole.”
In the two games since facing Murray, the Chiefs have allowed 355 rushing yards, but the team remains confident that the problems are fixable.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘poor,’” said linebacker Joe Mays when asked about the run defense’s problems. “It’s just technique things that we can work on that we have today, tomorrow and Friday to continue to work on and get better at.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid agrees that these problems can be fixed.
“Some of it is scheme and some of it is the fits that we’re doing up front and linebackers playing downhill football and then tackling,” Reid said. “I thought we did a little better job on the tackling part (last week).”
Although the Chiefs have issues, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton knows that Murray can create problems on his own.
“[Murray] is a big man that runs fast and that is not always a great combination if you are on defense,” Sutton said. “I think the young guy (Murray) as it appears just from what we’ve seen of him, he’s really got a high upside in my opinion. Fast and big, it’s a good place to start with.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid on Travis Kelce’s Week 14 controversial fumble:
“We’re not allowed to talk about all that stuff, so I’m just going to hold off on that.”
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton on Raiders running back Latavius Murray:
“Well, we saw him go by us for about 90 yards so we got a long, long look at him as he went down the field.”
Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson on the team’s last drive in Week 14:
“It goes without saying, it’s the drive to win the game. You’ve got to complete the throws, you’ve got to get the ball down the field whether you throw it quick or you’re taking five or seven foot drop.
Despite their recent issues, returning to Arrowhead Stadium should help the Chiefs get back on track.
The Chiefs have won four of their last five games at home and the Raiders have yet to win a game on the road.
Although running back Jamaal Charles is banged up, he’s always performed well against the Raiders and this week shouldn’t be an exception. Look for more screen passes to Charles and fewer deep drops by quarterback Alex Smith.
The run defense will have to be better, but the Raiders’ running game may find it tougher if the Arrowhead Stadium crowd brings the noise to offset the Chiefs struggles against the run.
It won’t be pretty and will likely be a low-scoring affair, but the Chiefs break the three-game osing streak.
Outcome: Chiefs 17, Raiders 10.