The Oakland Raiders haven’t made the playoffs since the last time they won the AFC West in 2002.
A win tonight in Kansas City would go a long way to making that streak come to an end.
According to The New York Times’ Upshot model, beating the Chiefs — evening the season series — would give the Silver and Black an 83 percent chance of claiming the division. A loss drops those odds to 23 percent.
That explains why it has been so important for the Raiders to continually “stack up wins” — to borrow head coach Jack Del Rio and quarterback Derek Carr’s favorite phrase. And also why Del Rio reacted with indignity when asked after Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills if this matchup represents just another week.
“It’s Chiefs week, man. What do you mean, ‘another game’?” he said to laughter. “I took a Denver team and went in [to Arrowhead Stadium, a notoriously tough place for the visitors] and beat them twice. … For us, they won the first one here. We look forward to going in there and competing.
“It’s a good football team, and we are too.”
The Raiders are 5-0 on the road but haven’t played in an environment as difficult as what they’ll face in Kansas City. And that’s before taking into account they’ll be playing in a frigid night on short rest.
The good news for Oakland fans is their team has a clear path to the playoffs, but they both rely on winning their game tonight. In that case, they’d need either the Miami Dolphins (playing the Arizona Cardinals) or Denver Broncos (at Tennessee) to lose this weekend to solidify their spot.
But it’ll take a reversal of fortune for Carr. The MVP candidate is 1-4 in his career against the Chiefs and was held to his worst game of the season in October when the teams met at the Coliseum. He had two turnovers as the offense was shut out in the second half.