There are just two weeks left in the regular season, and all
four AFC West teams still have a chance to win the division. Both
the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs need help to do it,
making their game Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium potentially vital
to that race.
Denver sits atop the West and controls its own destiny, but
Oakland (7-7) and San Diego are one game back and the Chiefs (6-8)
trail by two thanks to Sunday’s 19-14 upset of Green Bay. The
Broncos will play in Buffalo while this game is happening, and the
Chargers visit Detroit later in the day.
Kansas City clearly has the momentum edge over Oakland, loser of
three straight and coming off a devastating 28-27 loss to Detroit.
The Chiefs, in their first game Sunday after interim coach Romeo
Crennel took over for the fired Todd Haley, had a season-best 438
yards of offense and held the previously undefeated defending Super
Bowl champions to a season-low 315.
“Hey, you beat the Green Bay Packers, that was great,” Crennel
said. “But if you don’t get prepared, you don’t get ready to go,
we’re going to lose to the Oakland Raiders, and then the game
(Sunday) will be kind of down the drain.”
Remarkably, that win kept the Chiefs’ hopes alive for winning a
second straight division title. Besides having to win out, Kansas
City needs Denver to lose its final two games and for San Diego to
do no better than split.
The Raiders were in good position to snap their eight-year
postseason drought before blowing the division lead with their
three-game skid. If they come up short again, they may look back to
Sunday’s loss as the difference. Oakland blew a 13-point lead in
the final five minutes, and the Lions blocked Sebastian
Janikowski’s 65-yard field-goal attempt as time expired.
The Raiders need help from the Broncos to win the division, but
they also still have an outside chance at a wild-card spot.
“Three weeks ago we were 7-4 and feeling pretty good about
ourselves and now all of a sudden we’ve gotten to .500, so that’s
not where we want to be,” coach Hue Jackson said. “I think we
understand the predicament that we have put ourselves in. So what
we need to do is get the ship riding and go to Kansas City and play
It would be hard for the Raiders to play much worse than the
last time these teams met. In its first game after Jason Campbell
suffered a season-ending collarbone injury, Oakland was routed 28-0
on Oct. 23. Kansas City’s defense had two touchdowns and six
interceptions, three off Carson Palmer as he entered in the second
half in his first game after being acquired from Cincinnati.
The Chiefs offense had just 300 yards in that game with Matt
Cassel under center, but the Raiders’ 27th-ranked defense (378.8
yards per game) now face Kyle Orton and a Kansas City team coming
off its highest-scoring game since Week 7.
With Cassel (hand) out for the season, and with the Chiefs
averaging just 264.8 yards in the previous four games with Tyler
Palko under center, Orton has taken a firm grasp of the No. 1 spot.
In his first start since being acquired off waivers last month from
Denver, he threw for 299 yards and connected with 10 receivers
“That was about the most fun as I’ve had on a football field,”
The Raiders’ secondary was torched for 391 passing yards last
week, but Orton needs to improve in the red zone after missing five
passes inside the 20 against Green Bay. Ryan Succop, the AFC
special teams player of the week, made three of his four field
goals from 32 yards or shorter.
“We have to try to get touchdowns when we get to the red zone,
which will become critical for us in the next couple of weeks here
so we have to try to get that done,” Crennel said.
Darren McFadden has been out since suffering a mid-foot sprain
against the Chiefs and is not expected to play. Receiver Jacoby
Ford (foot) is also out, but the Chiefs’ secondary should be
concerned about Darrius Heyward-Bey, who set career highs with
eight receptions and 155 yards against the Lions.
Palmer, 207 yards shy of 25,000, threw for a season-best 367
yards and didn’t get picked off for just the second time in seven
He’ll try to help the Raiders post their fifth straight win in
Kansas City. Oakland finished last season with a 31-10 victory at
Arrowhead behind Michael Bush’s 137 rushing yards.
Bush has been held to an average of 60.5 yards in the past four
games after a four-game stretch in which he averaged 115.3.