Kansas City, Mo. The serious expression beneath Andy Reid’s bushy moustache finally started to curl up into a smile when the history of the Chiefs and Raiders was broached this week.
There’s nothing that gets an old coach’s fires stoked like a good rivalry.
“I get it. I understand it,” Reid said. “These are special in the National Football League, these types of rivalries that get your juices flowing and get them flowing early.
“The black and silver,” he added, “if anybody is wearing it, be careful.”
Fair warning, especially with a group of fans trying to set a record for loudest sports stadium today. They picked the Raiders to try to hit the ear-splitting mark of 136.7 decibels set by Seahawks fans earlier this year precisely because they’re such a heated rivalry.
The Chiefs and Raiders have been playing since the days of the old AFL, back when Lamar Hunt and Al Davis were in the ownership suites. The animosity hasn’t dimmed in recent years as Oakland (2-3) rattled off six consecutive wins at Arrowhead Stadium.
“It’s a great environment to play football in, a tough environment,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “But I think our guys get excited about coming and playing a division rival in Kansas City, and Raiders-Chiefs, how does it get any better than that?”
The Raiders will be trying to continue their road dominance of Kansas City (5-0), which will be trying to continue a dream start to Reid’s tenure in charge.
They have the league’s best scoring defense, they’ve been efficient on offense and they’ve been opportunistic on special teams. The result is that Kansas City has become the first franchise in NFL history to win its first five games after winning two or fewer the previous year.
Now, the Chiefs will try to get that Raiders bugaboo off their back.
“I just found out that we haven’t won at home against Oakland since 2006,” said quarterback Alex Smith, traded to the Chiefs in the offseason. “I’d like to get that changed.”
Here are five things to keep in mind as Smith and the Chiefs try to do it:
Hurt hamstrings: The Raiders are hopeful running backs Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings will be available as they work their way back from hamstring injuries. Three of McFadden’s 13 100-yard rushing games have come against the Chiefs, including two last year. “Both of them looked pretty good in practice,” Allen said, “and hopefully we’ll be able to have both during the game.”
Tender toes: McFadden and Jennings aren’t the only ailing running backs. The Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles has been dealing with badly blistered toes that have kept him off the practice field the last couple of weeks. Reid called the blisters “a mess,” and several other Chiefs players offered up all manner of home remedies this week. “They’ve got to be bugging him,” tight end Sean McGrath said. “It’s something he has to take care of and the training staff will do a great job of getting him ready.”
Upon Pryor review: Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor has steadily improved during his first full season as the starter. He joined a group of eight QBs to have compiled 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in the same game earlier this year against Indianapolis, and was efficient in a 27-17 win over San Diego last week. “We want to put him in those situations and let him go out and perform the way he needs to perform,” Allen said, “and not try to be somebody else. As long as he does that I think he’ll have a chance to be successful.”
No Bowe show: The Chiefs have yet to get wide receiver Dwayne Bowe involved in their offense after giving him a $56 million, five-year deal in the offseason. He has 17 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll be going against a defense that allowed 391 yards passing last week against San Diego. “Teams have put a lot of emphasis on him early,” Reid said. “Normally, good things are happening when the ball is in his hands.”
Tasty turnovers: The Chiefs lead the NFL with 15 takeaways through their first five games, and have turned them into 50 points. Meanwhile, the Raiders forced five turnovers and had their first three interceptions of the season last week against San Diego. “You have to take care of the ball,” Pryor said. “It’s going to be a good test to see if we can keep on not turning the ball over. They’re first in the NFL with a lot of things. They’re playing good football.”