Thursday Night Football
Oakland Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs Preview
Derek Carr’s spirited play during the Oakland Raiders’ six-game winning streak has placed the third-year quarterback in the lively discussion for NFL MVP honors. Carr has thrown seven touchdown passes over his last three games and 12 during the winning streak as the first-place Raiders head into an AFC West showdown with the host Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night (Enter Contest).
Carr rallied Oakland from a 15-point halftime deficit in Sunday’s 38-24 victory over Buffalo, all while working exclusively out of the shotgun/pistol to protect his injured right pinkie finger. He’ll look to avenge a far less effective performance in Week 6 when he threw for 225 yards in a 26-10 loss to Kansas City. The Chiefs kept Carr in park with a successful ground game, highlighted by Spencer Ware rolling up a career-high 131 yards and a touchdown. The 25-year-old Ware, who will look to light up the 29th-ranked Raiders’ run defense that is yielding 124.8 yards per contest, also found the end zone in Sunday’s 29-28 victory at Atlanta. Kansas City’s plus-14 turnover differential is tops in the NFL while Oakland (plus-12) is ranked third.
ABOUT THE RAIDERS (10-2)
While Carr is being mentioned in NFL MVP discussion, defensive end Khalil Mack is hearing his name bandied about for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. Mack has registered at least one of his team-leading 10 sacks in each of the last seven games, while also recording four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception in that span. Latavius Murray, who has three touchdowns in his last four encounters with Kansas City, scored twice last week to increase his rushing touchdown total to 11. It’s good enough for a tie for third in the league.
Second-year wideout Amari Cooper collected 10 receptions for 129 yards in the first meeting with the Chiefs, but was limited to just two catches on Sunday versus the Bills. Oakland can end its 13-year playoff drought with a win on Thursday and either a loss or tie by Miami or a loss by Denver.
ABOUT THE CHIEFS (9-3)
Alex Smith, who has thrown 18 touchdowns against three interceptions in his last nine starts versus the Raiders, is expected to see the return of trusted target Jeremy Maclin on Thursday. Maclin was a full participant in practice on Tuesday and is in line to end a four-game absence due to a groin injury. Tight end Travis Kelce recorded his third straight 100-plus-yard performance after reeling in eight receptions for 140 yards versus the Falcons, but was limited to three catches for 32 yards in the Week 6 win over Oakland. Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford registered two of his team-leading 10 sacks in the last meeting with the Raiders.