Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
OAKLAND – The Oakland Raiders were a trendy preseason choice to wind up in the conference championship game, but they are in desperate need of a victory to keep from falling out of contention in the AFC West. Riding a four-game losing streak, the struggling Raiders face a daunting task when they host the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.
Oakland plugged a void this week with the signing of four-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman, a tackling machine who moves across the Bay after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers on Friday. “A lot of experience, a lot of leadership, a lot of physicality,” star outside linebacker Khalil Mack said of Bowman. “You’re talking about a guy that, all you’ve got to do is turn the ball back to him. He’s going to be there. And that’s what we’re ready to do.” Kansas City became the last team in the NFL to lose, dropping a 19-13 decision at home to Pittsburgh on Sunday, but it has won five in a row against the Raiders. I think the positive is we’ve got a short week to try to get this bounce back and get this taste out of our mouth, if there is a positive,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said.
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network. LINE: Chiefs -3. O/U: 47
ABOUT THE CHIEFS (5-1): Kansas City averaged nearly 33 points through its first five victories, but its offense was bottled up while its 27th-ranked run defense was shredded for 194 yards. Kareem Hunt rushed for a season-low 21 yards but had five receptions for 89 yards to become the first rookie in league history to amass at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his team’s first six games. Multi-threat receiver Tyreek Hill injured his neck in Sunday’s game and it was feared he might have a concussion, but the team pronounced him good to go. Smith threw for 246 yards and a TD last week, failing to post a 100-plus passer rating for the first time.
ABOUT THE RAIDERS (2-4): Derek Carr returned to the lineup after missing one game with a fractured bone in his back, but had another mediocre game and has four interceptions in his past three contests after tossing only six picks in the entire 2016 season. The vertical passing game has been a staple in Oakland since the franchise’s inception, but deep threat Amari Cooper has a combined nine receptions for 51 yards during the four-game skid. Marshawn Lynch has not provided the expect jolt to the ground game, rushing for two TDs and an averaging 42.8 yards rushing. Only three teams in the league have fewer than the Raiders’ 11 sacks.
1. Smith is 9-1 with 19 TDs and four interceptions in his last 10 games versus Oakland.
2. Carr has lost five in a row to the Chiefs, but he has 14 TD passes in his last six home games.
3. Hunt, the league’s leading rusher, has 885 yards from scrimmage — the third-highest total ever by a rookie through six games.
PREDICTION: Raiders 23, Chiefs 22