In the standings, the 6-5 Oakland Raiders trail the 7-4 Kansas City Chiefs by just a game. With a victory in their matchup Sunday in K.C., and the teams will be tied atop the AFC West. It's a tight race with just five games remaining.
But the oddsmakers don’t see it that close, making the Chiefs 10-point favorites.
If the Raiders are to win, they’ll need some good fortune – some turnovers and good special-teams play – and a big day from Josh Jacobs and the running game.
It’s clear that running the ball will be Oakland’s clearest path to an upset against a team that has beaten the Raiders in nine of the past 10 meetings.
One of the Chiefs’ few weaknesses is run defense. The Chiefs are allowing 143.1 yards per game, the third-worst total in the NFL.
In the Week 2 matchup of these teams, a Kansas City victory by a 28-10 score, Jacobs carried 12 times for 99 yards, an 8.3 average. And, the Raiders running game as a whole is a team strength, averaging 122.7 yards per game on the ground, 12th in the NFL.
Jacobs, the rookie first-round pick from Alabama, ranks fifth in the league in rushing with 957 yards and 4.8 yards per carry. He’s on pace to rush for 1,392 yards and is a leading candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
As Jordan Mannix of FanSided wrote this week, "He (Jacobs) has been a huge key to their offense so far this season, with the Raiders winning all four games in which Jacobs ran the ball 23 times or more. The key to this game (for the Chiefs) will be containing Jacobs early."
The Raiders’ running game is coming off perhaps its worst game of the season, however, with just 68 rushing yards in a loss to the Jets, with Jacobs getting just 34 on 10 carries.
But, if the Raiders can open holes for Jacobs and Co. early, get some quick points and control the tempo of the game – and keep the ball away from Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ explosive offense – Oakland has a chance.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden knows the game will be a challenge.
"We are going to have to earn every first down, we are going to have to work hard to get Mahomes off the field," he said this week. "They’re coming off a bye week. They’ll be fresh as daisies so it will be a great challenge in one of the great places and rivalries in football. Hopefully, it brings out a much better performance in us."
Kickoff for Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium is set for 10 a.m.