KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (5-1) AT OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-4)
SERIES HISTORY: 114th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead series, 60-51-2. The Chiefs own a five-game win streak over the Raiders and head coach Andy Reid owns a 7-1 record against Oakland since arriving in Kansas City in 2013. The Chiefs won at Oakland last season 26-10, with defensive tackle Dontari Poe scoring a 1-yard touchdown run on a lateral from Alex Smith. Kansas City completed the season sweep with a 21-13 win at home behind two touchdowns from Tyreek Hill, a 36-yard touchdown reception and a 78-yard punt return. The last Raiders win was 24-20 in Oakland in 2014 on a Thursday night for the first victory of the season after an 0-10 start. It is Derek Carr's lone win against the Chiefs.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Chiefs dropped their first game of the season Sunday, falling 19-13 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Raiders (2-4) find themselves digging out of a deeper hole after the Los Angeles Chargers kicked a game-winning field goal, sending head coach Jack Del Rio's squad to its fourth-straight defeat.
"We're excited about the next opportunity," Del Rio said. "We're just looking to bounce back and get a much-needed win."
While the Raiders' losing streak includes dropping the last two games at home, the Chiefs find themselves amid several streaks in the other direction. Kansas City owns wins in nine straight regular-season road games along with a 12-game winning streak against AFC West opponents. "It's pretty impressive because it's a good division," Del Rio said of Kansas City's win streaks. "But they've been rolling, they've playing excellent football."
Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson said playing a divisional opponent makes the preparation a bit easier for a Thursday game with only one day of on-the-field practice.
"It definitely helps," Johnson said. "It definitely helps playing in the division on a short week against the Raiders. They know us, we know them. It will be a knock-out, drag-out game It will come down to the fourth quarter, of course."
Oakland has to get better play from quarterback Derek Carr, who returned last week after missing one game because of a back injury and didn't play well.
"I need to play better for my team," Carr said. "I have no problem putting that on me and making sure that when I show up on Thursday night that I do my best in preparation to put my best foot forward."
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith also did not play well Sunday and knows what a win would mean to put added distance between his etam and the Raiders.
"We understand where we're at, we understand what happened Sunday," Smith said. "I think a little bit you're flushing that. You realize what a big game this is - on the road, short week, division game, Raiders. I think that's enough said. We've got to go full steam ahead, do whatever we can to get a win."
Injuries play a factor during the quick turnaround, and both teams have players in doubt at key positions.
Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson did not practice Tuesday with a sprained knee, putting him in danger of missing his second straight game. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who left Sunday's game with a neck injury, appears ready to play Thursday night after practicing in full Tuesday. Starting center Mitch Morse, out with a sprained foot since Week 2, and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, out the last two games with a sprained knee, remain limited in practice and may not return this week.
The Raiders share similar issues along the offensive line. Starting right tackle Marshall Newhouse did not practice Tuesday with a foot injury. Vadal Alexander would likely start in his place if the injury keeps him out of Thursday's game. Starting right guard Gabe Jackson was also limited in practice with a foot injury.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Chiefs TE Travis Kelce vs. Raiders SS Karl Joseph. Joseph has been solid in his second year, but still struggles at times. He gave up two big completions to Hunter Henry that were costly against the Chargers. Kelce had five catches for 101 yards in the second meeting with the Raiders last season. Quarterback Alex Smith is 20-for-27 for 311 yards going to Kelce against the Raiders and Kelce leads the Chiefs with 33 catches for 390 yards and two touchdowns.
--Raiders WR Michael Crabtree vs. Chiefs CB Marcus Peters. Peters, the Oakland Tech product who grew up in the shadow of the Coliseum, had a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown in his first game against the Raiders in Oakland and then another last year in his hometown. Crabtree, meanwhile, has a pair of touchdowns against the Chiefs but is averaging only 7.9 yards per catch (14 receptions for 110 yards) in four games against Kansas City as a Raider.
--Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill vs. Raiders CB David Amerson. Hill is tied with Kelce for the team lead with 390 receiving yards, while Amerson has four passes defensed this season. Hill caught six passes on six targets for 66 yards in Kansas City's 21-13 win over Oakland in Week 14 last season, including a 36-yard touchdown reception. The Raiders' secondary ranks 19th against the pass, averaging 232.7 yards allowed per game through the air with no interceptions.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Kansas City cornerback Terrance Mitchell. The journeyman cornerback came to Kansas City last year in midseason and immediately found a home in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's aggressive man-to-man coverage scheme. Mitchell plays on the opposite side of shutdown All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters, which dares teams to challenge Mitchell. So far, he's responded, leading the team with 28 tackles and two interceptions and ranks tied for fourth in the league with 11 passes defensed.
FAST FACTS: Chiefs QB ALEX SMITH has 9-1 record (.900) with 19 TDs vs. 4 INTs for 105.9 rating in 10 career meetings. In 4 career games at Oak., has 9 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 129.9 rating. Aims for 3rd in row vs. division with 110+ rating. RB KAREEM HUNT had 110 scrimmage yards (89 rec., 21 rush) last week. Leads NFL with 885 scrimmage yards (147.5 per game), 3rd most in NFL history by rookie in team's 1st 6 games of season. Aims for 7th in row with 100+ scrimmage yards. LB JUSTIN HOUSTON has sack in 3 of past 4 meetings. Has 15 sacks, 8 PD, 3 FFs & INT-TD in past 10 vs. division. Since entering league in 2011, ties for 3rd in NFL with 65.5 sacks. Raiders QB DEREK CARR has 1,503 pass yards (250.5 per game) with 14 TDs vs. 4 INTs for 106.6 rating in past 6 at home. Since entering league in 2014, has 89 pass TDs vs. 35 INTs (2.54:1), 7th best TD/INT ratio in NFL. RB MARSHAWN LYNCH had 124 rush yards in last meeting (11/16/14 with Sea.). Has rush TD in 2 of past 3 at home. Has 53 rush TDs since 2011, most in NFL. DE KHALIL MACK had sack & FF in last meeting. Has 4 sacks in past 4 meetings. Has 30 sacks since 2015, most in NFL over span.
PREDICTION: The Raiders appear to be in a freefall, and it could be desperate times if they lose their fifth straight game. This is their third consecutive home game, which is not a good sign. Kansas City was awful in the first half last Sunday, totaling just 6 yards, but still were in position to win the game. The key could be if Hill can play and make big plays. Oakland hopes to have newly-signed linebacker NaVorro Bowman available. The Raiders' defense has to be able to stop Hunt. It says here they won't.
OUR PICK: Chiefs, 23-17