This is a back-to-the-future game for the Chiefs and Raiders, two proud franchises that are bouncing back after hitting rock bottom. At 5-2, the Chiefs lead the AFC West by 1.5 games over the 4-4 Raiders, who have won back-to-back games for the first time since 2008. Oakland crushed Denver 59-14 two weeks ago, setting a franchise single-game scoring record, and then smacked Seattle 33-3. Kansas City has won back-to-back games, too, beating Jacksonville 42-20 and Buffalo 13-10 in overtime.
Keys for the Raiders
• The Raiders rank second in rushing in the league, and their offense revolves around running back Darren McFadden, who’s having a breakout year. If they can get McFadden untracked against a stingy Chiefs run defense, then the Raiders can do some damage with play-action passes. McFadden rushed for a career-high 165 yards and three touchdowns two weeks ago against Denver, then added 111 yards against Seattle.
• Oakland’s 26th-ranked run defense will face a huge challenge Sunday against the league’s top-ranked rushing attack. The Raiders held up remarkably well the past two weeks, limiting Denver to 75 yards and Seattle to 47 yards on the ground. But five weeks ago, Houston gashed the Raiders for 249 rushing yards. The Raiders can’t afford a relapse on Sunday.
Keys for the Chiefs
• The Chiefs lead the NFL in rushing and are last in passing, so they need to keep getting the ball to running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. Kansas City has rushed for over 200 yards in three straight and four of their past five games. The Chiefs are on pace to rush for a team-record 3,046 yards. Charles, who is coming off a 177-yard game against the Bills, has rushed for 666 yards while Thomas has gained 538. They’re both on pace to crack the 1,000-yard mark.
• Kansas City’s defense will need to slow down a Raiders team that has scored a combined 92 points the past two weeks and killed Seattle with big play after big play. They had seven plays of 30 or more yards, including quarterback Jason Campbell’s 69-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey and McFadden’s 49-yard run.
Fourteen of the last 18 games between the Chiefs and Raiders have been decided by seven points or less, so you can expect a close game between two AFC West rivals who have legitimate playoff hopes. Both teams are hot, but the Raiders have taken their game to a higher level the past two weeks and are riding a wave of confidence. Raiders 28-24.