Chiefs vs. Raiders: Five Things to Watch

The Chiefs host the Raiders on Sunday in the regular season finale at Arrowhead Stadium

The Kansas City Chiefs (10-5) host the Oakland Raiders (7-8) on Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium with a 3:25 p.m. CT kickoff in the final game of the regular season.

Here are five storylines to follow throughout the game:

1. A win breaks a historic franchise record

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When the story of the Kansas City Chiefs 2015 season is told, the lead is going to be something to the effect of the turnaround of a 1-5 start all the way to the playoffs.

That is the hook, the lead and what people will remember.

But that next line is either going to state that they pulled off the longest winning streak in franchise history, or that they *tied *for the longest winning streak in franchise history.

Sunday's game against the Raiders will determine how that line in the mention of this team in franchise history will read.

As of right now, they have tied the 2003 and 2013 teams with nine consecutive wins, and another win would put them alone for the best mark in franchise history.

It's already an amazing turnaround and they've already put themselves in elite company, as the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals are the only other team in NFL history to start a season with a 1-5 record and come back to make the playoffs.

But a win on Sunday would put an exclamation point on a regular season that began with every reason to doubt what this team could accomplish, only to give way and show us that we should never doubt what this team can accomplish.

2. Three key battles to watch on Sunday

Can the Chiefs slow down Derek Carr?

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In just his second NFL season, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has already proven to be one of the best up-and-coming young players in the league.

He's just one touchdown shy of moving into second place on the NFL's all-time list for touchdowns thrown in the first two years of a career, trailing then only Hall of Famer Dan Marino. That's esteemed company for a player that started his sophomore season on a tear but has cooled off considerably over the past few games.

Before his Week 13 matchup with the Chiefs back in Oakland, Carr had already thrown 24 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions, completed 63 percent of his passes and averaged 263 yards per game in his first 11 games.

In the past four games, Carr has completed just 55 percent of his passes with 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions while averaging only 224 yards per game, although he did go 2-2 during that time.

Carr completed almost 65 percent of his passes and threw for 283 yards in the first meeting against the Chiefs, but his 3 fourth-quarter interceptions proved to be the difference in that game.

Can the Chiefs slow down the NFL's sack leader, Khalil Mack?

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The Raiders have a good nucleus of young talent with Derek Carr, receiver Amari Cooper and outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who has been a force for the Raiders defense all season—particularly over the past five games.

"He's a tremendous football player," Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said of Mack. "I have a lot of respect for him. You see what he's done here in the second half of the season and since our game, he's kind of a man possessed.

"Obviously you have to be aware of where he's at and where he lines up because he can cause problems for you – that pass rush is one of the best in the National Football League right now."

Mack leads the NFL with 15 sacks this season, and of those, 10 have come in the past five games, including 2 against the Chiefs in their first meeting just four weeks ago.

He has the attention of quarterback Alex Smith.

"It starts with him," Smith said of Mack. "He jumps out on film and he's playing at a really high level right now."

With starting right tackle Jah Reid missing some practice time this week with knee inflammation, the battle to help slow down Mack off the edge might include a new face in the trenches for the Chiefs as Reid is listed as questionable headed into Sunday's game.

It's definitely one of the key battles to watch on Sunday.

Will Jeremy Maclin have another big game against the Raiders?

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In the first meeting against the Raiders, Maclin finished with 9 catches for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns. The question on Sunday is whether or not he'll be able to match that production against them again.

Through 15 games this season, the Raiders defense has allowed 266 yards per game through the air, which ranks 27th in the NFL.

In his past five games, Maclin has 422 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns.

Will Justin Houston play on Sunday?

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After missing the past four games with a hyperextended knee suffered in the game against the Buffalo Bills, linebacker Justin Houston returned to practice on Friday and is officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

"He got good work in, we'll just see how he feels," Reid said on Friday of Houston's availability. "We'll take it from there. I've said it's a day-by-day thing and that's really what it is, but he moved around pretty good today."

Veteran Tamba Hali (knee) is also listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

With both players missing last week's game against the Cleveland Browns, second-year player Dee Ford and veteran Frank Zombo started in their places at outside linebacker.

3. Milestones within reach

Besides just the consecutive wins streak, there are also a few individual milestones within reach for a handful of players on Sunday:

Cairo Santos needs just one more 50-plus-yard field goal to give him 5 for the season, which would break the current franchise record. He's currently tied with Nick Lowery (4, 1980).

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Tamba Hali (86) needs just 1 more sack to pass Neil Smith (86.5) for second on the franchise's all-time sacks list.

Ron Parker (6) is just 1 sack shy of breaking the franchise's all-time sacks record by a defensive back. Reggie Tongue currently holds the record (6.5).

Marcus Peters is only 1 pass defensed away from breaking the franchise record for most in a season, which was set by Brandon Carr back in 2010. Peters is tied for the NFL lead with 8 interceptions this season, which is also tied for the best mark for a rookie in franchise history (Bobby Hunt, 1962).


LAST TIME THEY MET

Photos from the Chiefs Week 13 matchup against the Raiders


4. Be sure to keep an eye on the other games happening around the AFC

The Chiefs have already wrapped up a playoff spot, but their opponent and location for next weekend's AFC divisional round has yet to be determined.

While the AFC West division title is still possible for the Chiefs, which would mean hosting a playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium as well as earning their first division championship since 2010—they're going to need some help for that to be the case.

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Not only would the Chiefs need a win over the Raiders, but they'd also need the San Diego Chargers to knock off the Denver Broncos as well. The Broncos won the first meeting between these two teams by a score of 17-3 down in San Diego just four weeks ago, but they have also dropped two of their last three games. That game is also kicking off at 3:25 p.m. CT.

There are several other games going on around the AFC that will also help determine who and where the Chiefs will play next weekend.

Over at ESPN.com, there's a playoff prediction machine that allows you to plug in who you think will win each of the games and then it will tell you who and where the Chiefs would play based on those results.

Some options include hosting a game at Arrowhead Stadium, traveling to Houston, Cincinnati or Denver.

5. Bidding Farewell to one of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history, Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson, who played the first game of his career against the Chiefs back on September 6, 1998, will play the final game of his illustrious career in the same place it began almost 20 years ago—Arrowhead Stadium.

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Woodson, a nine-time Pro Bowler with 65 career interceptions—which ranks fifth in NFL history, is retiring after 18 seasons.

Here's what some of the Chiefs had to say about Woodson's career:

*Chiefs coach Andy Reid: *"I'm glad he's picking a different profession. He's a heck of a player, he still can play – I mean, he's said that. There's just a point you get to where it's time, he feels that. More power to him for being able to do that. Going out as a Pro Bowl-caliber player and he's done it at two different positions and probably could have done it at wide receiver if he chose to do that. This guy's a phenomenal athlete, good person, good leader—just good for the National Football League."

*Chiefs OC Doug Pederson: *"Unbelievable, anybody that can play in this league for that many years. A guy like himself, Matt Hasselbeck in Indy – I did play with Matt, so I know him a little better. It just goes to show their love of the game, their passion for the game, the way they take care of themselves, physically, mentally, on and off the football field, in the offseason. Just to watch those guys play, that long, for a fan of the game, it's a great thing to watch."

Chiefs QB Alex Smith: "I think the craziest thing is just watching this year and seeing how well he's playing, it's crazy that that kind of longevity at a physical position - can play as long as he has and play at that level for so long is so rare; very, very rare. So yeah, watching it – there's for sure a big respect from anybody watching that and playing against him for what he's done in his career."

Respect.

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