by Tom LaMarre
Win or lose in the opener against the Denver Broncos, and fortunately it was the former, this Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs always figured to be a real challenge for the Oakland Raiders.
The Chiefs have dominated the Raiders in recent seasons and won three straight AFC West titles, but this game takes on even more significance because the Silver and Black won’t return home to the Oakland Coliseum for seven weeks.
Included is a “home” game against former Raider Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears on Oct. 6 in London and the Raiders don’t play at the Coliseum again home until hosting the Detroit Lions on Nov. 3—the first of three straight home games and five in seven weeks.
So a 2-0 start and some solid play on the road would allow the Raiders to return home with at least a decent record for that home stretch, which could be huge for their prospects of a strong bounce-back from last season’s 4-12 record.
However, the first part will be anything but easy.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who threw 50 touchdown passes last season, led the Chiefs to a 40-26 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars with three more scoring throws in their opener.
“You watch the Chiefs on film … they’ve got a lot of skilled players,” Raiders Coach Jon Gruden said on Tuesday. “Mahomes is just spectacular, amazing. It’s going to be a tough, tough game for us, especially on a short week.”
The Chiefs have won 10 of the last 12 meetings since the Raiders beat them twice in 2012, sweeping the two games last season, 35-33, in Oakland, and routing the Raiders, 30-3, in the last game of the season at Kansas City to lead the all-time series, 65-53-2.
The rivalry dates to the first season of the American Football League in 1960 when the team then known as the Dallas Texans beat the Raiders, 34-16, the first time the teams played.
However, the Raiders do have some good recent memories of the series, as quarterback Derek Carr drove the Raiders 85 yards in the final 2:25 and threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree with no time left to give Oakland a 31-30 victory at the Coliseum two years ago.
Carr, who was nearly flawless against the Broncos, completed 29 of 52 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns in that game against the Chiefs and will need more of that on Sunday.