Chiefs Insider: Thank heaven for the Raiders.

If they had to face a team they didn't know as well or respect as much, the Chiefs might have a real problem rebounding from their 24-19 initial loss of the season to Cincinnati, a team that guaranteed the upset and then backed up the talk.

That aspect of their first loss stung Kansas City's players more than taking the L. Some were talking about it on Wednesday, 24 hours after coach Dick Vermeil decreed that "the mourning period is over."

But having the Raiders come to town for a late-afternoon game at Arrowhead should help re-establish the Chiefs' focus, and maybe start a new winning streak now that a nine-game one has ended.

That's not because the Raiders are struggling with a 3-7 record and have lost the league's MVP quarterback (Rich Gannon) and his promising young backup (Marques Tuiasosopo) to injury. Nor because Oakland has five surviving starters ruled out this week with injuries while three others deal with the cloud of a suspension for alleged THG use.

No, the Chiefs look forward to the Raiders arrival because, simply put, they are the Raiders. That is, a long-standing rival that has beaten Kansas City in six of the last eight meetings and will come to Arrowhead riding an imposing running game, the likes of which Kansas City has been vulnerable to this year.

How's that helpful?

Why should a defense that is giving up the NFL's next-to-worst yards per carry (4.9 yards) look forward to playing an opponent that ran 43 times for 191 yards in a 28-18 upset of Minnesota last week?

How can a defense gashed for 200 rushing yards in Cincinnati last week get excited about facing a Raider attack that has to run to take heat off emergency quarterback Rick Mirer?

Here's why: The Chiefs leaky rush defense simply has to step up to the challenge of limiting a good rushing attack, and Tyrone Wheatley and Company will present that challenge.

Forget, for a minute, Oakland's No. 19 ranking in rushing offense. The Chiefs prefer to remember a Raider running attack that raced through them for 280 yards in the rain-soaked season finale at Oakland last year. They're as anxious to atone for that embarrassment as they are for the Cincinnati loss.

Missed tackles played a huge role in the Bengals' Rudi Edwards running for 165 yards last week, with tackle-shedding big gainers of 38 and 54 yards. The Chiefs know they must shore up that run defense with cold weather setting in.

"Some of those misses were ricochet misses," said coach Dick Vermeil. "We've had that trouble against other big backs. You hit the guy and don't get your shoulder pads involved or move your feet and wrap your arms. Then he bounces off you."

Added middle linebacker Mike Maslowski: "We're hitting people too high, generally. As hard as these running backs run, you've got to take their legs out. We didn't do a very good job of that (against the Bengals). I know I didn't."

So, bring on the Raiders and let the challenge begin.

"We haven't been good against the run all year, so we know they're going to run the ball," said defensive tackle Ryan Sims. "They've got a backup quarterback playing who handed off 21 straight times (against Minnesota). There's just not much trickery involved. We know what they're going to do, but can we stop it?

"If we can stop the run and make them pass the ball, we'll see what happens," Sims added. "But if we can make them throw it, it will get turned over."

SERIES HISTORY: 87th regular-season meeting. The regular-season series is deadlocked 42-42-2 after Kansas City won the first meeting in Oakland this year 17-10, snapping a three-game KC losing streak at Oakland. Top Stories