KANSAS CITY, Mo. – You'll see several national stories about how the Kansas City Chiefs are back, fully recovered from a late-season slide.
Maybe they are. Maybe they aren't. Tough to tell when the competition's so poor.
The Raiders were awful in Sunday's just-gotta-have-it game at Arrowhead Stadium, beaten handily in a 26-15 result justly deserved.
Now they're down and virtually out of the AFC West, needing considerable help to get back in the race. That assumes, of course, that everything else goes right. That's hard to fathom after the Raiders pulled a no-show against a division rival.
The offense in particular was terrible through three-plus quarters. A late-game surge padded some stats, but quarterback Derek Carr wasn't good. He had a 36.3 passer rating after three periods, and couldn't establish an offensive rhythm while Kansas City built an insurmountable lead.
The Raiders ran three plays or less on six of their first eight drives, while the Chiefs built a four-score cushion. They had 268 total yards, and barely had possession.
All that in a game they simply had to win. They controlled their own fate heading into Sunday. Wins over Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers, when paired with a Dallas-Philly split, would've won the AFC West.
A brutal midseason slump pushed them outside playoff contention, but a prolonged Chiefs losing streak provided new life. Players felt blessed to have it, and seemed ready to close the season strong.
That didn't happen. The Raiders fell flat on their face, a look unbecoming of a playoff contender. The Silver and Black aren't anymore. Not after this one.
It somehow felt worse than the 52-0 thrashing three years ago in St. Louis, maybe because these Raiders had so much at stake.
Jack Del Rio said after firing Ken Norton three weeks ago that nobody should feel comfortable. That's especially true following a result that should send tremors through all levels of this organization.
A late-game surge shouldn't change that. The Raiders ended the shutout with roughly nine minutes left. They cut the lead to nine, but never moved with the urgency required to erase that deficit.
They return to Oakland disappointed, with a tough stretch ahead and wake opportunities in their wake.