Raiders need a carefree, but not careless, Derek Carr against Chiefs

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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- It would be unfair to say the Oakland Raiders' locker room had a raucous atmosphere to it this week, especially with the team riding a four-game losing streak and the first-place Kansas City Chiefs riding into town.

And yet ...

Laughs echoed off the walls, hijinks were had, and there were even dueling wireless speakers pumping out music. Loud music.

Cordarrelle Patterson was on a Michael Jackson kick, while Mario Edwards Jr. favored more recent hip-hop.

And there was Derek Carr, who is usually a ghost during the media-access period, kibitzing with reporters and hanging out.

Raucous? Meh ... the Raiders are loose. As loose as they have been since winning 12 of their first 15 games last season. It is not as if Oakland has nothing to play for in Week 7, but the Raiders in general and Carr in particular are giving off the aura they need to simply let it all hang out and see what happens.

This is what Carr needs to be come kickoff Thursday (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS), because while the Raiders own his rights with that monster five-year, $125 million contract he signed this summer, the Chiefs own Carr, having beaten him five times in six meetings.

In those five consecutive losses, Carr has completed just 56 percent of his passes and averaged 4.9 yards per attempt, with five touchdowns and five interceptions for a Total QBR of 23.0.

Carr needs to channel his rookie self, when he got that one victory against Kansas City. On a Thursday night. At the Oakland Coliseum. In the rain. With Justin Tuck alertly calling a timeout as Sio Moore and Khalil Mack celebrated in the Chiefs' offensive backfield, with Alex Smith about to get a play off.

It would be too simplistic to say the Raiders need a Carefree Carr. But they need the hunger and wide-eyed optimism he had Nov. 20, 2014, when Oakland entered the game 0-10 and Carr did just enough to come out on top and get the Raiders trending upward.

"As cliché as we can get, you have to go 1-0 this week," Carr said. "But yeah, absolutely, it's a division game, which really counts for two; they usually do. You want to go out there and beat one of the best teams in football. We have them coming to our place on a short week, so all the challenges are there.

"Everything is pushing our back against the wall, but one thing I know we're going to do is we're going to come out ... and fight. We're definitely excited to have them come into our place this week."

Lose to the Chiefs, and the Raiders fall to 0-3 in the AFC West.

Granted, Carr is playing injured. He has a broken bone in his back and you have to wonder how much the broken right fibula he suffered last Christmas Eve is still on his mind, let alone the pinkie finger on his passing hand he dislocated and fractured the weekend after Thanksgiving.

The mental side of his game is also under attack with an offense that is not clicking. It was the No. 6 overall offense in the league last season. Now it's No. 30.

"I don't think there's a single guy that can look back over the last few weeks and say, 'You know what, I'm really pleased with how I've played over the last three weeks,' or, 'called the last three weeks' or, 'coached my position the last three weeks,'" first-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing said.

"We all own this together," he said. "There's no one guy that is going to save it or break it or anything in between. We need to do this as a team, and everybody needs to make the plays they're afforded the opportunity to make, and I need to call the right plays when afforded the opportunity to call them."

Indeed, but it is a given that quarterbacks get too much credit when things go well and too much blame when they go south.

Enter Carr's nemesis: the Chiefs.

"They're an extremely well-coached team," Downing said. "They don't beat themselves, which is something we need to stop doing offensively, is beat ourselves."

The Chiefs are more than happy to take the help, though it would behoove Carr to let it fly again -- to care, but not play tight.

"They're really smart," Carr said of the Chiefs. "They're really smart players. They don't do a lot, so they can see route concepts. They can visualize things and get used to seeing those kind of things."

But which Carr will Kansas City see Thursday night?