KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Raiders (6-5) will meet the Chiefs (7-4) on Sunday with a chance to move into a tie for first place in the AFC West. But recent history suggests Oakland will face significant challenges to beat Kansas City.
The Raiders haven’t defeated the Chiefs on the road since 2012 — the year before Andy Reid took over as Kansas City’s coach. That means no one on the Raiders’ roster has gone to Arrowhead Stadium and come back with a victory.
Temperatures also are expected to hover around the mid-30s, and as former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio pointed out on social media, quarterback Derek Carr has not performed well in games below 40 degrees.
With a lot on the line, here are three things to watch for in Sunday’s game.
1. Can the Raiders run?
The Raiders’ offense is built around the running game. Rookie Josh Jacobs has proven to be an effective bell-cow back with 957 yards rushing and seven touchdowns — effectively rewriting the Raiders’ rookie rushing record book.
But last week, Jacobs got stopped early and the Raiders fell behind in a 34-3 loss at the Jets, preventing the run game from getting going. Jacobs had his lowest rushing output of the season with 34 yards on 10 carries.
Sunday’s matchup could be an opportunity for a get-right game, as the Chiefs have struggled against the run. They’re No. 30 with 1,574 rushing yards allowed and No. 31 in allowing 5.1 yards per carry. Jacobs had 99 yards on 12 carries in the first meeting between the teams.
If the Raiders can put together sustained scoring drives with Jacobs bowling over defenders, that’s one of their surest paths to victory.
2. Will the Raiders prevent big plays?
In the Week 2 matchup, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw touchdowns of 44, 42, 27 and 39 yards. If the Raiders are going to win Sunday, the secondary will have to stay over the top to keep big plays to a minimum.
“It’s almost like explosive plays are like a high for KC,” slot corner Lamarcus Joyner said. “We’re all creatures of habit, and I don’t think they’re going to throw five yards here, throw six yards there and be content with it. Those guys are looking for that high, and that’s that home run — that 80-yard run or that 80-yard bomb down the field.”
The key, Joyner said, is to keep the mindset of having every play in front of them.
That’s easier said than done, especially considering the shuffling the Raiders have had to do in the secondary in recent weeks. But Joyner will be back after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury, and that should help with critical communication for the back end of the defense.
3. Can Carr turn it around?
In games with starting temperatures below 40 degrees, Carr has averaged 152 yards passing, completing 51 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and four interceptions. The Raiders have lost all four of those games.
Carr has averaged 186 yards in his five starts at Arrowhead Stadium, completing 55 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and five interceptions in five losses at the venue.
“It’s not easy to play there,” Carr said. “It’s loud, it’s rowdy, they put up a lot of points, they do a lot of things well on defense, so it’s just tough to play there.”
There are a lot of elements that lead to these numbers. But if the Raiders are to win, they will need Carr to be at his best — efficient as he spreads the ball around to keep the offense on schedule and in manageable situations.
Who: Raiders at Chiefs
When: 1:25 p.m. Sunday
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
TV/Radio: KLAS-8, KYMT-FM (93.1)
Line: Chiefs -10½; total 50½