Getting Ready To Fight … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

From Oakland, California

Before the Chiefs and Raiders ever faced off on the field they were fighting. They’ve never really stopped.

Back then it was procedural arguments in the run up to the inaugural season of the American Football League. The Raiders were the last team in. Actually, they were not yet the Raiders; they were called the Senors and their first logo featured a man wearing a sombrero and serape.

They fought over the rights to Stanford WR Chris Burford, who had signed with Lamar Hunt and the Dallas Texans before Oakland had a franchise. They fought over the rights to RB Abner Haynes, whose right’s originally belonged to the Minnesota franchise that pulled out of the AFL. Those players were given to the Oakland team when it came in.

Through the rest of the AFL years and into merger with the NFL, the Chiefs and Raiders just never quite got along. Fed by Al Davis on one side and Hank Stram on the other, they took the rivalry to the edge of the rules and sometimes beyond.

Here they are on this Sunday in November, more than 50 years after their first disagreement, getting ready to play for the 100th time in the regular season. It’s the 5-2 Chiefs and the 4-4 Raiders from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum at 3:15 p.m. CST. (Television broadcast is on CBS with Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots.)

Much has been said in the past week about this being the first time in many years the Chiefs and Raiders have met where the outcome mattered to both teams. That’s not true. It’s mid-season and whatever team happens to win will not have wrapped up a division title or a spot in the playoffs. And, whatever team loses will not be out of the hunt for a spot in the NFL tournament or finished for the season.

The hard fact is that no matter the score of the game, come Sunday evening the Chiefs will still lead the AFC West.

Psychologically and emotionally, it’s another matter. There are a lot of similarities to where these two teams are right now, and where they’ve been in recent seasons. Both have caught fire in the first half of the schedule and confidence in each locker room has exponentially grown. A Sunday victory will continue to pump up the winner and provide another hurdle for the loser to overcome.

“This is huge,” Raiders DE Trevor Scott said this week. “Where we are right now, a lot of us we haven’t been in these waters before. Just the fact that we’re 4-4 … it’s been a long time since we’ve been .500 around here. We’ve got to keep the foot on the gas pedal.”

The last time the Raiders were at the .500 mark at mid-season was 2002, the year they went to the Super Bowl and got smoked by Tampa Bay and former Oakland coach Jon Gruden. Since that NFL championship game loss in San Diego, the Raiders record is 33-87. In the seven seasons (2003-09) before this one, the record at mid-season has been 2-6, 2-6, 3-5, 2-6, 2-6, 2-6 and 2-6.

“It’s a great feeling because we know we have something to play for,” said Raiders LB Sam Williams. “We know we’re a good team and the sky’s the limit.”

In those same time span where the Raiders have been awful, the Chiefs weren’t very darn good either. Their record is 54-65, and the last time they had a winning record at mid-season was 2006, when they were 5-3 in a season where they went to the playoffs. That season was also the last time the Chiefs won three games in a row. The Raiders have won two in a row, and they haven’t put together three straight victories since the 2002 season.

“They are a lot like us in a lot of different ways in the way they’ve structured their football team,” said LG Brian Waters. “They are trying to do the same thing we are, trying to rebound back to the franchise that people know them as.”

On the other side, there are three players still with the Raiders who were part of that 2002 regular season finale when Oakland threw a shutout at the Chiefs in the rain 24-0 – K Sebastian Janikowski, P Shane Lechler and OT Langston Walker.

Forget the rivalry aspect of the Chiefs and Raiders. There’s just one player on the Chiefs roster that has played in one of these games where the outcome really mattered in the standings – Waters.

“It’s hard to look back to the AFL days when these teams were going through each other to win championships, it’s hard to compare today to those days,” Waters said. “We know the stories and the players that have come through these games over history on both teams. There have definitely been some lean years for both of these teams.”

Although there hasn’t been much gasoline on the rivalry fire, these games are always tight and always in doubt until the fourth quarter; 12 of the last 14 games between the teams have been decided by seven points or less, five of those by three points or less.

“They’ve always been close football games,” said Waters. “We expect that now. Both teams realize that this thing is probably going to come down to the wire if it holds true to form.”

Form has been a Chiefs victory in Oakland. The seven-game winning streak is currently the longest in the NFL between divisional opponents. No team in the 51-season history of the Raiders has beaten the Raiders at home eight straight times.

Both teams need the victory. Both teams can survive a defeat and still be a factor in the AFC picture for the playoffs. It figures to be a fight.

It always is.

CHIEFS VS. RAIDERS WHEN IT DID MEAN SOMETHING

The last time the Chiefs and Raiders both had a winning record when they played each other was the final game of the 2002 season, when a 10-5 Oakland team smashed the 8-7 Chiefs with a shutout, 24-0.

After that, both games in the 2000 season involved teams with a winning record. Here’s what the last 10 seasons looked like in the standings when the Chiefs and Raiders met for their yearly double-header.

CHIEFS                                                             RAIDERS

Game #1

Game #2

SEASON

Game #1

Game #2

0-1

1-7

2009

0-1

2-6

0-1

1-10

2008

0-1

3-8

3-3

4-6

2007

2-3

2-8

5-4

7-7

2006

2-7

2-12

1-0

4-3

2005

0-1

3-4

3-8

6-8

2004

4-7

5-9

6-0

9-1

2003

2-4

3-7

3-4

8-7

2002

4-2

10-5

*

3-8

2001

*

8-3

3-2

5-3

2000

4-1

7-1

*-season opener.

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6

  • CHARGERS – activated S Steve Gregory from the reserve/suspended list; released WR Richard Goodman.
  • COLTS – placed WR Anthony Gonzalez on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season; signed RB Andre Brown.
  • FALCONS – released TE Keith Zinger, WRs Andy Strickland and Ryan Wolfe and DB Dominique Daniels.
  • PACKERS – activated S Atari Bigby from the reserve/PUP list.
  • PATRIOTS – activated G Logan Mankins from his roster exemption; released CB Terrence Wheatley.
  • SEAHAWKS – signed OT Breno Giacomini from their practice squad; released WR Ruvell Martin and OL Chris Center.

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