Although the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs are off to their best start in 10 years, coach Andy Reid thinks his team has plenty of issues to work on as they head into their first AFC West contest.
The Chiefs look to keep rolling by ending a six-game home losing streak to the rival Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Kansas City (5-0) got the go-ahead score on a run by Jamaal Charles with 6:23 left and the Chiefs followed with a pair of interceptions to preserve a 26-17 win at Tennessee on Sunday.
Charles ran for 108 yards and a touchdown and added 37 yards on five catches. He’s fifth in the NFL with 397 rushing yards and leads the team with 28 receptions, though he hasn’t been nearly as effective in recent meetings with the Raiders (2-3).
Charles rushed for 14 yards on 14 carries and finished with 38 total yards as Kansas City dropped both matchups with Oakland last season.
This year, however, has been a much different story for the Chiefs. After a 2-14 finish in 2012, they’re trying to win their first six games for the first time since a 9-0 start in 2003.
“Listen, we’re 5-0 and we’re not ashamed of that,” Reid said. “But we also know that we got a ton of room to improve. It’s important that we continue to do that.”
Quarterback Alex Smith has stabilized the most critical position for the Chiefs in his first season in Kansas City, but he’ll be looking for a better performance after going 20 of 39 for 245 yards with an interception Sunday.
Smith faced Oakland twice while with San Francisco, throwing for 361 yards with five touchdowns and one pick in a pair of victories.
He could be missing one of his top targets in Donnie Avery, who is recovering from a bruised shoulder. Tight end Anthony Fasano is also uncertain to play, fellow tight end Travis Kelce may miss the rest of the season after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and right tackle Eric Fisher is likely out because of a concussion.
The Chiefs would like to get receiver Dwayne Bowe more involved in the offense; he has just 17 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and a matchup with Oakland might provide the right opportunity. The Raiders gave up 391 passing yards in a 27-17 victory over San Diego last week.
Kansas City went 1 for 4 in the red zone and 1 for 12 on third-down conversions against the Titans.
“You can’t make a living doing that, right?” Reid said. “You have to make sure you’re more efficient on third down, and you have to shorten the third downs a little bit, too.”
Looking to stay tied with Denver atop the AFC West, Kansas City begins a three-game stretch at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs, though, have averaged 12.3 points during their six-game home skid to Oakland.
The Raiders forced five turnovers against the Chargers and have eight takeaways in their last three games after recording none in the first two.
The Chiefs are also playing well defensively, allowing a league-low 11.6 points per game and ranking seventh in total defense at 312.8 yards a contest.
They could receive a tough test from quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who went 18 of 23 for 221 yards and two touchdowns last week. His 135.7 passer rating was the highest for a Raider since Rich Gannon in 2002.
“He’s probably leaps and bounds ahead of where we thought he would be at this point in time,” coach Dennis Allen said. “The key for him is he continues to work and continues to strive to get better on the little things.”
In his last two starts bridging a one-game absence due to a concussion, Pryor has connected on 72.5 percent of his attempts for 502 yards with three scores and no picks. He also leads the Raiders with 229 rushing yards on 37 carries.
Matt Flynn, beaten out for the starting job by Pryor in the preseason, was released this week.
Rashad Jennings started for the injured Darren McFadden and ran for 41 yards on 10 carries against San Diego before suffering his own hamstring injury. Both players practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.