Chiefs can take sole possession of first with win over rival Raiders
The Kansas City Chiefs have rebounded from a sluggish start by playing some of their best football in the last few weeks. They'll try and keep it going against one of their favorite opponents.
The Chiefs look to move over .500 for the first time this season and defeat the Oakland Raiders for the ninth straight time when they visit McAfee Coliseum on Sunday.
After being outscored 40-13 in losing its first two games, Kansas City (3-3) has won three of its last four to move into a tie with San Diego atop the AFC West.
"We're 3-3 -- not where we'd like to be -- but we've dug ourselves back out of that hole again and we're hopeful we can stay out," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said after last Sunday's 27-20 victory over Cincinnati.
Against the Bengals, Tony Gonzalez caught career touchdown passes Nos. 62 and 63 to break the record of 62 TD catches by a tight end held by Shannon Sharpe. Gonzalez finished with 102 receiving yards last Sunday, and has 369 yards and three touchdowns on 29 receptions in his last four games.
The eight-time Pro Bowler has been at his best against the Raiders, tallying 1,210 receiving yards and seven career TDs against them in 19 games -- both career highs against any opponent.
After the Chiefs gained just 10 yards on the ground in their 17-7 loss to Jacksonville on Oct. 7, Larry Johnson finished with 119 rushing yards on 31 carries and scored his first TD of the season last Sunday.
"We were able to run the ball," Gonzalez said. "This is something that we have to do to be successful. We know what we're capable of doing. We know how good we are. We were able to go out there and prove it. It only lasts 24 hours and after that we have to go do it again next week against the Raiders."
Oakland is fifth-worst in the league in run defense, allowing an average of 144.8 yards per game. Last Sunday, the Raiders allowed a season-high 206 rushing yards in a 28-14 loss to San Diego, as reigning MVP LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for four scores.
Johnson hopes for a similar performance against Oakland's vulnerable run defense.
In two games against the Raiders last season, Johnson ran for 289 yards on 62 carries with three touchdowns. Johnson's 634 career rushing yards and nine rushing TDs against Oakland in six games are his most against any opponent.
Johnson may split time in the backfield with Priest Holmes, who practiced in full pads Wednesday for the first time since a severe head and neck injury in 2005.
"He still has quickness," Edwards said. "He has burst. He has great acceleration. He hasn't lost that. Maybe he doesn't have what he had four years ago, but he's still OK. He didn't get hit and lay down and not want to come back. He got up and dusted himself off and got back in the huddle and did it again."
Kansas City traded backup running back Michael Bennett to Tampa Bay for draft picks on Tuesday, creating a spot for the three-time Pro Bowler.
Holmes who turned 34 this month, owns 18 Chiefs' single-game and career records, including career marks for rushing yards (5,933) and rushing touchdowns (76), but Edwards still does not know if he'll be activated for this game.
Kansas City has had few problems beating Oakland lately, winning 26 of 34 meetings since 1990.
The Chiefs have won a franchise-record eight straight over the Raiders -- their longest active streak against any opponent -- but seven of those wins have been by seven points or less.
Oakland (2-3) is no stranger to eight-game losing streaks to AFC West opponents, as last Sunday's loss was its eighth straight to the Chargers.
The Raiders, who were an NFL-worst 2-14 last year, have lost 16 straight games in the AFC West.
Oakland averaged a league-leading 194.3 rushing yards per game through Week 5, but was held to a season-low 53 yards on 23 rushing attempts against San Diego.
"We're close to being a good team, but we just played like a bad team," offensive lineman Robert Gallery said. "You can overcome some things, but I think in all facets of the game, we killed ourselves."
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper completed 24-of-37 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown in his second start of the season last Sunday, but also threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked six times. Kansas City, meanwhile, is tied with Philadelphia for the second-most sacks in the NFL with 19.
The Raiders have split their only two home games this season, and have won just three of their last 14 at McAfee Coliseum