The NFL has a handful of historic rivalries, but few trek back as far the Chiefs and Raiders. These two franchises have been duking it out on the gridiron since the 60’s. For any rivalry to stand the test of time, there has to be longevity, frequent encounters, and competitive battles. It’s not only important that the games themselves are competitive but also that the teams are relatively successful. To brew a rivalry to a boiling point, the stakes need to be high.
Recently, this ingredient has been missing from the Chiefs/Raiders rivalry. Their games have usually been competitive, but Oakland hasn’t posted a record better than .500 since 2002. In that time they’ve shuffled through a litany of subpar and sometimes laughable QB’s and coaches, failed draft picks (The Al Davis Method: take the fastest 40 time left on the board, regardless of football skill), and train wreck acquisitions (Randy Moss, Richard Seymour, Carson Palmer, etc.).
As for the Chiefs, with the exception of a few duds and the black eye that is the Pioli/Haley era, they’ve been a consistent franchise, going to the playoffs five times in the same span. Last season KC rode a ten-game winning streak into the postseason and earned their first playoff victory in 22 years.
In the 2016 season, the tide has turned for Oakland and the winning ways of the Chiefs have continued, leading to the most important game in this rivalry in quite some time. Oakland boasts a division leading 10-2 record, a top-five offense, and one of the game's most electric playmakers on defense, Khalil Mack. As for the Chiefs, they are humming into Thursday’s matchup riding the high of two preposterous road wins over Denver and Atlanta.
For a rivalry that’s been missing lofty stakes, this one has all the fixings for a classic. The Chiefs dominated Oakland in the Black Hole in week 6, cruising to a 26-10 victory. This means a W for our Chiefs puts us on the inside track for a division title, a potential playoff bye, and a game at Arrowhead in the divisional round. For Oakland, a win would award them a two-game cushion in the division and put them in serious contention for home field throughout the postseason.
As it was noted earlier, The Chiefs gave the Raiders quite the ass-kicking in the first matchup this season. The Raiders came out of the gate sizzling, scoring a TD in a swift three-minute drive. The Chiefs answered with a TD of their own from Spencer Ware in a lozengy (slow but effective) drive that totaled almost ten minutes. The Chiefs dominated from then on out. The backfield racked up 183 yards and three TD’s on the day. They controlled the line of scrimmage and bullied a weak Oakland defense. Ball control was paramount; KC had the football for almost 14 more minutes when it was all said and done. This factor will be important Thursday as well. If KC can stay out of long yardage situations (especially 3rd and long) then they can keep Mack from terrorizing Smith off the edge.
Another critical factor for the Chiefs will be winning the turnover battle. In eight of our nine wins thus far we have forced more turnovers than our opponent. Look no further than the wins over, Atlanta, Carolina, and Jacksonville to see just how crucial turnovers have been for the Chiefs this season. In the first matchup, KC forced two turnovers and committed zero. That recipe would likely do the trick in Arrowhead come Thursday.
KANSAS CITY over OAKLAND - 23-21
With the weather turning frightful, brimming confidence from the route of Oak Town earlier this year, and the deafening noise of an Arrowhead crowd fueled by hate for their rival and seven hours of tailgating (Yea, they’re opening the gates to the lot at noon) the Chiefs will edge out the Raiders with a slim two-point victory.
After Thursday’s game, Oakland and KC both finish their final three games with two wins and one loss, a 12-4 record for both. The first tie breaker is based on head to head so to the Chiefs go the spoils. We earn a bye and the right to host our first playoff game since 2010.
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