For the second week in a row, the previously reeling Oakland Raiders have been dealt a fortunate hand.
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters was suspended by head coach Andy Reid for his behavior in Week 13, when he threw a penalty flag into the crowd and then headed to the locker room despite him not being ejected.
“This time of year, you’re typically adjusting to injuries that occur. We’ll treat it very similarly to that,” Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters on Wednesday.
After losing four straight, the Raiders find themselves in a three-game tie with the Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers atop the AFC West. A win on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium would be a welcome development for the team’s playoff chances after Oakland beat Kansas City in Week 7 thanks to a last-minute drive after Marshawn Lynch was thrown out of the game for defending Peters, a fellow Oakland native.
Taking Peters, Kansas City’s top cornerback, out of the equation can only help quarterback Derek Carr and the still-struggling offense complete their turnaround. Even if Reid said in a conference call that he made the decision because he thought it “was best for the Chiefs.”
The longtime head coach wouldn’t directly answer whether he took into consideration that this game was against a divisional opponent while making the decision to suspend Peters.
But the Raiders are treating this as a playoff game.
“I feel like from here on out, I think they’re all going to have that [playoff] feel to it,” Carr said. “Hopefully we can just get hot and get on a run.”
And even if they aren’t facing the best version of their opponent, Carr insisted the Raiders will stay the course.
“Definitely with him being out, it doesn’t change what we do,” Carr said. “We still have to go out there and execute our game plan. If anything, maybe we throw one or two more the other way. It just depends how they roll the coverages and do those kind of things.”
There just won’t be a 24-year-old player with 17 career interceptions back there to stop him.