(SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas City Chiefs try to resuscitate their fading playoff hopes on Sunday when they try to stop a three-game losing streak against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.
Kansas City's skid started with Oakland's first win of the season back in Week 14, but has continued through this past Sunday when it was upended by the Arizona Cardinals, 17-14.
The Chiefs had the ball with 1:09 remaining, but they mustered just seven yards before turning the ball over on downs. Alex Smith's short pass to Jason Avant fell incomplete on a 4th- and-15 with 11 ticks on the clock.
Arizona's defense shut out the Chiefs in the second half after surrendering two scores to Jamaal Charles in the opening 30 minutes. He ran for a 63-yard touchdown and caught an 18-yard TD pass.
Smith went 12-of-13 in the first half, but was limited to 14-of-26 efficiency in the second. He threw for 293 yards in all.
"We had some three-and-outs," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid. "We had too many. They did a good job and we couldn't get ourselves in a rhythm."
Still, despite the slide the Chiefs are one of five 7-6 teams in the mix for the AFC's two wild-card spots currently occupied by Pittsburgh (8-5) and San Diego (8-5). Kansas City visits the Steelers next week before closing the season against the Chargers.
"I don't know all the (playoff) scenarios and really don't care," Smith said. "It's not our deal. ... We have to get a win this week."
While it's probably unfair to call the 2-11 Raiders hot, but they certainly come into this one in better shape than the Chiefs. Oakland won for the second time in three weeks on Sunday, as Derek Carr had three touchdown passes to lead the Raiders in a 24-13 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
"We stayed together as a team is supposed to," Carr said. "We came out here and fought."
Carr went 22-for-28 for 254 yards with touchdown passes to Donald Penn, Marcel Reece and Mychal Rivera as the Raiders bounced back from an embarrassing 52-0 loss at St. Louis in Week 13.
"People had us dead and buried last week," interim coach Tony Sparano said. "I mean, we were done. It was 52-0, everybody quit. This team is a resilient team. I've said it all along. For some reason or another, nobody wants to listen, but I've been saying it. This is the type of team they are.
"We need to make sure that we just focus on us right now going into this. We need to understand and learn from what happened to us two weeks ago."
The Raiders are 0-6 on the road for the first time since losing all eight games in 2006. They are 2-20 away from home over the last three seasons, though one of those victories was 26-16 at Arrowhead on Oct. 28, 2012.
However, they have won six of their last seven versus Kansas City, including the Week 12 matchup that saw Oakland rush for 179 yards on the ground and Carr cap a 18- play 80-yard drive with a go ahead touchdown with 1:42 left in the game.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
If you are a fan of the running game this will be the game for you.
Although Charles missed practice earlier in the week with an ankle injury, he should be ready to go in this one. The NFL leader this season with 14 touchdowns, Charles figures to add to that total this week, as he has compiled 465 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns over a three-game stretch against Oakland.
However, it didn't look good for him last week when he left the loss to Arizona for a short time with an ankle injury.
"It was scary at first," Charles said after that one. "I thought I tore it up."
Kansas City needs Charles on the field, as it is 6-2 this season when he gets at least 14 carries.
Oakland, meanwhile, may have found a diamond in the rough in rookie Latavius Murray. The first-year pro gashed the Chiefs for 112 yards back on Nov.20, but suffered a concussion after just four carries and missed his team's awful loss to St. Louis.
However, he returned on Sunday against the 49ers and ran for 76 yards on 23 carries.
"He's real good - fast, explosive, finds the hole real well," Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe said. "We've got to kind of put a hat on him and then try to keep him out of each hole."
Murray figures to have another good game this coming week, as teams have racked up 164.7 yards per game on the ground against the Chiefs since Oct. 30. Still, Kansas City has allowed just two rushing touchdowns on the season - both to Murray.
As impressive a win as the Raiders had last week against a San Francisco team in turmoil, they will have their hands full this week against a Chiefs team still fighting for a playoff spot with revenge on their mind.
If Kansas City misses out on the postseason it very well may point to that Week 12 loss to the Raiders as the reason. The Chiefs should be able to keep Murray in check this time and force Carr into some mistakes.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Chiefs 27, Raiders 13