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Rapid Reaction: Oakland Raiders

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 24-13 win against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday:

What it means: If no one predicted the Raiders could beat the Chiefs, even fewer can honestly say they saw this one coming. One week after getting punched in the mouth by the St. Louis Rams, Oakland bounced back with its best game of the season. This was a more complete win than the Kansas City game. The Raiders had lulls in that game and needed a fourth-quarter touchdown drive to win. There was no such letdown against the 49ers. Oakland led from start to finish, got big plays in every facet and might have ruined whatever playoff hopes San Francisco had.

Stock watch: Rising -- Running back Latavius Murray returned to the lineup and sparked the running game to give the offense some much-needed balance. Murray sat out the loss to the Rams because of a concussion, and the ground game went nowhere. Murray didn’t have a signature big run against the 49ers, but he kept the sticks moving and forced San Francisco’s defense to back off of its pass rush a bit. he finished with a meaty 76 yards on 23 carries.

And the game ball goes to ...: It’s usually an easy call, but this game offered several candidates. You could make the argument for Oakland’s entire offensive and defensive lines, for left tackle Donald Penn catching his third career touchdown pass or even for Brandian Ross, whose interception on the first play of the game helped set the tone. But no one had a bigger impact than Mychal Rivera. The team’s only healthy tight end before Scott Simonson was activated from the practice squad, Rivera repeatedly burned the 49ers with long receptions down the middle of the field. Five of his catches netted first downs, and a sixth was the game-clinching touchdown.

What’s next: The Raiders head to Kansas City to try to once again throw a wrench into the Chiefs' playoff hopes. They already have a blueprint on how to do it, having beaten their division rival only a few weeks ago. Before losing to the Chiefs on the road last season, the Raiders had won six consecutive games at Arrowhead Stadium. Oakland can’t rely on Murray to have another big day like he did against Kansas City in Week 12, when he scored two touchdowns and rushed for 112 yards on only four carries. But he is a much better option than anyone else the Raiders have used to run the ball this season.