One of the classic rivalries spawned by the 1960 formation of the American Football League will be losing one of its treasured homes after this season. With the Oakland Raiders expected to move to Las Vegas in 2020, a little something will be lost from television clips of yesteryear against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"It was back during the Len Dawson era, when football was on in black and white," said Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, referencing the Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl IV. "So that's a long history of the rivalry. It used to be called 'hate week.' I don't think we should push it that far, but we know what we got coming." Add that extra motivational nugget to a Sunday matchup that finds the longtime AFC West rivals squaring off in Oakland, Calif.
Each triumphed in their openers. The Raiders even got a leg up in the division by overcoming the release of troubled wide receiver Antonio Brown to trip the Denver Broncos on Monday night. The win enabled Oakland coach Jon Gruden to share a perspective that still sounds rather implausible.
"We haven't had any distractions this year, really," Gruden said Wednesday. Can the Chiefs provide one? Well, they have won eight of their last nine against the Raiders, which factors into the 21 wins Kansas City has recorded in its past 23 division matchups.
Looking for a fourth consecutive AFC West title behind reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs exude supreme confidence. Enough that coach Andy Reid did not make much out of what could be the franchise's last trip to Oakland. "The bathrooms flooded last year, won't miss that," Reid said.
Neither the Chiefs nor the remainder of the NFL got to face Brown in silver and black, as the wideout's bizarre Steelers-Raiders-Patriots saga continues. Nonetheless, the Chiefs might need everything Mahomes can deliver if Oakland quarterback Derek Carr maintains his passing accuracy.
Carr completed 84.6 percent of his attempts in the 24-16 win against Denver, going 22 of 26 for 259 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive that gave the Raiders the lead for keeps. Mahomes fired for 378 yards and three touchdowns in the Chiefs' season-opening 40-26 victory at Jacksonville. An ankle sprain Mahomes sustained against the Jaguars did not slow him much, and there was no lingering effect as he practiced Wednesday.
"They've got a lot of skill, man, and Mahomes is spectacular," Gruden said of the Chiefs. "It'll be a tough, tough game for us, on a short week especially." The Chiefs will miss wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who injured his collarbone in the opener and is out for a few weeks. De'Anthony Thomas will rejoin the Chiefs after a one-game substance abuse suspension and fill in for Hill along with Georgia rookie Mecole Hardman. Sammy Watkins starred in the opener, producing 198 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Oakland rookie safety Johnathan Abram will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury he sustained in the Denver game. Curtis Riley or Erik Harris will step up to replace Abram. Also, guard Gabe Jackson (knee) remains out.
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