This is a big one.
There is talk all around the nation this week by NFL pundits of how shocking it is that a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders actually means something for the first time in a long time.
With the Chiefs being 5-2 and the Raiders being 4-4, a lot is at stake for both teams in this AFC West rivalry game.
I wrote last week for Chiefs Command that the path was clear for the Kansas City Chiefs (then 4-2) to make the playoffs. One can now safely say that this might be the final hurdle in the divisional race. If the Chiefs can clear this hurdle by pulling off a huge win in Oakland, the only remaining obstacle to winning the race will be to not trip and fall on their faces.
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A win puts the Chiefs at 6-2 and the closest competition in the division would be 4-5, giving Kansas City a huge margin for error to close out their remaining schedule, which isn’t exactly the toughest in the league either.
Surprisingly, the Chiefs are already the surest bet to make the playoffs. As it stands right now, Football Outsiders have the Chiefs’ chances of making the playoffs calculated at 94.2%. Those chances will increase even more with a W. If you ask me, those are some pretty good odds. The Chiefs don’t need to win Sunday in order to make the playoffs, but it would, for all intents and purposes, lock the division up and secure a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
The Chiefs have one significant historical stat in their favor: they have not lost to the Raiders at Oakland since 2002, when the Raiders last made the Super Bowl. That’s 7 wins in a row for the Chiefs on the road at one of the NFL’s supposed “hardest places to play.”
I suppose I am the resident optimist here at Chiefs Command, but at this point, there’s little reason to not be one. If we beat Oakland on Sunday, don’t be surprised if you catch yourself checking the scoreboard for updates on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, and New York Jets in the coming weeks.
The Raiders have a lot of momentum coming into this game, winning their last two games by a combined score of 94-17; yet, I think the Chiefs pull this off because they are the better team. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has shown on a consistent basis that if you are a one dimensional team, he can stop your offense. This week, look for the Chiefs to effectively slow Darren McFadden enough that he won’t be able to win the game for Oakland. Expect Jamaal Charles to have another huge game, and with star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha out of action, who knows, maybe even Matt Cassel will have a good game.
Chiefs 24, Raiders 17