Two teams floundering near the bottom of the standings, meeting in late October, shouldn’t be enough to stoke the passions of fan bases weary of losing.
Unless it’s the Chiefs and Raiders.
There are few fiercer rivalries than this AFC West matchup of teams with proud traditions that have fallen on the hardest of times. This will be their 107th meeting, and so rarely has so little been on the line when they’ve met this early in a season.
The Raiders are 2-4 after rallying for an overtime win over the Jaguars last Sunday, while the Chiefs got a much needed week off following a miserable 1-5 start.
“Any game, you’re always desperate to get a win,” Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour said, “and you can throw the records out in this game, when you look at the Raiders and Chiefs. It’s always hard-fought football and I don’t expect anything less this Sunday.”
Hard-fought might be a relative description this time, though.
The Raiders have won five straight at Arrowhead Stadium, but they haven’t won on the road since the last time they visited Kansas City last December. That includes a 35-13 rout at Miami and a 37-6 spanking by Peyton Manning and the Broncos earlier this season.
Of course, the Chiefs haven’t exactly been defending the home turf.
Kansas City is 3-10 over its last 13 games at Arrowhead, once regarded as the loudest and most intimidating venue in the NFL. That includes blowout losses to Atlanta and San Diego and a 9-6 defeat to Baltimore that only Bronko Nagurski could have loved.
Things have been so bad that Chiefs fans hired an airplane to tow a banner at their last home game asking for the general manager to be fired and the quarterback to be benched.
They got half of what they wanted.
Scott Pioli is still calling the shots in Kansas City, but Matt Cassel has become one of the NFL’s most highly paid backups.