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Running back Michael Bush had a big game against the Chiefs in Kansas City last season. (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
Arrowhead Stadium can be a hostile place for an opposing team.
It could be an especially nasty venue for a Raiders team that has lost three straight games and now faces a must-win situation this week and next if it hopes to get into the playoffs.
But, there’s this: the Raiders have gone into Kansas City four straight times and come out with a victory.
So, while nothing else might be going right for them these days, at least history is on their side.
Now the Raiders, 7-7, go into always-loud Arrowhead Saturday to face a 6-8 Chiefs team that shocked the NFL last week with a victory over previously undefeated Green Bay, 19-14, under interim coach Romeo Crennel.
Both teams are still alive mathematically in the race for the AFC West championship and an AFC wild-card berth. Depending on what happens over the next two weekends, the Raiders and Chiefs could finish anywhere from first to last in their bunched-up division.
Oddsmakers have made the Chiefs one-point favorites.
Kansas City routed the Raiders earlier this season 28-0 in Oakland when the Chiefs intercepted Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer – making his Raiders debut – six times while scoring two defensive TDs.
Since that game, Broncos castoff Kyle Orton has taken over at QB for the injured Matt Cassel and Tyler Palko, and last week led the upset of the Packers while throwing for 299 yards.
The Raiders go into Saturday’s game without running back Darren McFadden and wide receiver-kick returner Jacoby Ford. Michael Bush – who rushed for 137 yards last year at Arrowhead in a 31-10 Oakland victory – will need to have another big game. Palmer, meanwhile, is coming off a season-high 367 yards passing in a loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday.
Despite all the injuries to key playmakers on offense, however, the Raiders have been most hurt by their defensive breakdowns the past three weeks in blowout losses to Miami and Green Bay and in the second-half collapse against the Lions.
Raiders head coach Hue Jackson knows his defensive unit will have to plug its holes Saturday if the Raiders want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Oakland ranks 31st in the NFL against the rush, 23rd against the pass and 29th in scoring defense.
“We’ve got two games to get it right and play as well as we can play,” Jackson told the Bay Area News Group this week.
There was some positive news that emerged Thursday about the status of McFadden. Though he won’t play Saturday, ESPN reported McFadden has undergone a series of tests and was told his biggest challenge is dealing with the pain of his midfoot sprain. It was reported McFadden hasn’t given up hope in returning for the final game, vs. the Chargers on Jan. 1, or for the playoffs should the Raiders qualify.
His ability to play next week and beyond probably won't mean a thing, however, if the Raiders can't beat the Chiefs Saturday.