The Kansas City Chiefs are frustrated, their playoff hopes likely gone.
They’ll try to stop a three-game losing streak when they visit the struggling Oakland Raiders on Saturday night.
After beating Denver 19-10 on Thanksgiving, the Chiefs were 7-4 and had the look of a team poised to make a run at the playoffs. Three straight losses, though, have derailed the team and it finds itself needing plenty of help to make the postseason.
Last year, Kansas City went 10-6 and became only the fourth team since 1990 to miss the playoffs after winning at least 10 games. This season, the Chiefs could also finish with a winning record, but a poor performance against AFC teams is likely to cost Kansas City (7-7).
The Chiefs are only 3-7 against conference teams, one reason they face long odds to claim one of the two wild-card berths. Denver and Cincinnati, at 8-6, currently hold those spots, and there are five other teams besides Kansas City that are either 8-6 or 7-7.
The slide began when the Chiefs blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in a 31-28 overtime loss at Cleveland on Dec. 3. In the last two games, Kansas City has scored only one touchdown and was held to field goals in a 20-9 defeat at San Diego on Sunday night, the Chiefs’ third straight loss on the road.
“We need to sit down and change something,” said running back Larry Johnson, who’s second in the NFL with 1,516 rushing yards. “This is getting ridiculous. Everybody is saying, ‘Oh, it’s fine, it’s OK.’ I don’t know who in their mind thinks this is OK. This is nothing that’s OK. We need to change a lot of it.
“I’m getting tired of hearing that ‘We’ll get ‘em next week’ speech. We need to really start sitting down and knowing what we need to do to put points on the board and what we need to do to do win games.”
Johnson, who was one of four Chiefs voted to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday— guards Will Shields and Brian Waters and tight end Tony Gonzalez were the others — said the offense has become too predictable in recent weeks.
“I’ll talk to the whole team about where we’re at right now,” Kansas City coach Herman Edwards said. “What we need to do. And that’s something we all have to look at and do. We’ve lost three in a row. No one’s happy about that, especially me. I’m not very happy about it and I know the players and the coaches aren’t. We’ve got to find a way to get the ship turned around the right way. Right now it’s going the wrong way.
“(Johnson) is frustrated. And he’s not the only guy frustrated. There’s a lot of guys frustrated. Coaches are frustrated, too. We’ve got to handle it. We’ll handle it in-house. And that’s how we do it.”
Kansas City closes out the season at home against Jacksonville, one of the teams at 8-6, but will need to beat Oakland (2-12) to entertain further thoughts about the playoffs.
The Chiefs needed a touchdown run from Johnson with 1:32 remaining to beat the Raiders 17-13 at home on Nov. 19, extending their winning streak to seven over their old AFL rivals.
With a victory Saturday, Kansas City would have the longest win streak for either team since the series began in 1960. Oakland has never lost eight in a row to any opponent.
The Raiders, who have lost seven straight overall, need to win out to avoid their first season with fewer than four victories since going a franchise-worst 1-13 in 1962.
Oakland lost 20-0 to St. Louis on Sunday, its third shutout defeat of the season. Since 1978, only the 2000 Cleveland Browns (four) have been shut out more times in a season.
“There were some opportunities that were missed but again, it’s not all Aaron’s fault,” Raiders coach Art Shell said. “There’s other things involved in it, but there were some opportunities that were missed.”
Oakland hasn’t scored more than 14 points in any game during the losing streak and its offense—averaging a league-worst 244.5 yards per game—has overshadowed the play of a solid defense.
Defensive end Derrick Burgess was the Raiders’ only Pro Bowl selection, despite a defense that ranks first against the pass and fourth overall.
“I don’t know what they look at or what they judge,” said Burgess, who has 11 sacks. “Us winning would help more. So that’s our next thing.”
The Chiefs are 26-8 against the Raiders since 1990, including playoffs.