Two teams, two dramatic wins, one spot atop the division. The Raiders and Chiefs each wrote a script fit for Hollywood on Sunday sending them on a climactic collision course in Kansas City in primetime Thursday night.
In the early going, all eyes in Oakland were on Atlanta where the Chiefs and Falcons were going at it. These two teams represent each of the two losses the Raiders have this season and their meeting didn’t disappoint.
Both teams went for touchdowns on their opening drives, but a blocked extra point had the Chiefs down 7-6 early. From there, it was back and forth, with the Chiefs leading 20-16 at the half thanks to an Eric Berry pick six. They extended that lead on their opening drive of the third quarter.
The Falcons roared back late to take a 28-27 lead. Not content with the one-point lead, they went for two to try and go up by three. Instead, Ryan was again picked off by Berry who again returned it for a score. That’s a two-point play which was all the Chiefs needed to steal a 29-28 win.
In the afternoon, it was up to the Raiders to keep pace. A loss to the Bills would mean a tie atop the AFC West and dropping to a fifth seed in the playoff race.
Early on it wasn’t looking good. Midway through the third quarter, they had never led and had given up two touchdown to being the second half to go down 24-9. Then they flipped the switch and rattled off 29 unanswered points to take out the Bills 38-24.
It’s the Raiders’ sixth straight win with the Chiefs having won six of their last seven.
With the Raiders now at 10-2 and the Chiefs at 9-3, you couldn’t ask for a more dramatic and exciting lead in for these two teams to face each other in just four days. The Raiders know how big this is.
“It’s Chiefs week, man,” said Jack Del Rio. “What do you mean another game? (laughing) I took a Denver team and went in there and beat them twice. They were 9-0 and we went in there and beat them twice. For us, they won the first one here. We look forward to going in there and competing. It’s a good football team, and we are too. We look forward to it.”
“Very excited,” said Khalil Mack. “It is a big game. A real big game.”
“We know that in our division, we have to keep winning with Kansas City, Denver, and San Diego,” said Derek Carr. “Everybody is so good. We’re not focused on what game it is or how many wins we have, we’re focused on Kansas City, who’s next. We obviously know the tough test that is, but we have to compete and get a win there.”
Even with the one-game lead in the division for the Raiders, a loss to the Chiefs would be a big blow to their playoff seeding. It would mean a sweep by the Chiefs and almost certainly taking a backseat in the division.
The Raiders would go from being in control of their own destiny to needing the Chiefs to lose to have a chance at a first round bye. If the Chiefs win out, the Raiders will have to play in the wildcard game no matter what they do in the final three weeks.
The last time the Raiders were in this position with a division rival was 2000. That season the Raiders won the division at 12-4, a game ahead of the Denver Broncos at 11-5 despite the Broncos sweeping them that year. As it happens, it was a loss to the Chiefs in week 16 that knocked the Broncos from atop the AFC West.