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Raiders visit Chiefs team with incentive to win
After a memorable show to close down the Oakland home schedule for 2018 - and perhaps forever - the Raiders wrap up the season Sunday in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium against a Chiefs team that is 11-4 and playoff-bound.
Oakland is 4-11 after beating the Denver Broncos, 27-17, in a rainy, raucous Monday night drama that was forged into the memory of a Raider Nation that may never again see its team play in Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders move to Vegas in 2020 and the team and city are bickering still/again/one last time about a lease, this time a one-season deal to cover 2019.
Options and rumors are many as to where the team may call home next year, from San Francisco's AT&T Park, to Santa Clara's Levi's Stadium and others including San Diego. And the Oakland Coliseum is allegedly still a possibility. Owner Mark Davis says that will be figured out in a few weeks.
Meantime, the season finale received some juice when the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Chiefs, 38-31, which added real meaning to this Sunday's game for Kansas City. Their 11-4 record clinches a playoff berth, but it can be as the AFC West champion and first seed with a bye or as second in the AFC West to the Los Angeles Chargers (11-4 at Denver Sunday) and only a wild-card team.
The Chiefs clinch the AFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with (1) KC win or (2) KC tie plus Chargers loss or tie or (3) Chargers loss and Patriots loss or tie plus Texans loss or tied or (4) Chargers loss plus Patriots loss or tie - Chiefs clinch at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over Texans.
Obviously, a game of one-upmanship. Just because the Raiders don't know where their next home field will be, the Chiefs' confused a very nice postseason scenario by losing to Seattle. The result is not good for the Raiders, who might have played against backups at Arrowhead Stadium if the Chiefs took care of business. Now the Chiefs must take the Raiders seriously, which they have done historically very well, winning 62 of 116 games dating back to the formation of the American Football League in 1960.
The Raiders have given reason for respect while winning two of their last three as quarterback Derek Carr has completed 357-of-520 passes for 3,864 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions, but no picks in nine games or 325 consecutive throws - longest such streak in the NFL. He needs 78 more passes without a theft to set an NFL record. Unless there is one hell of a game Sunday, that won't come until Week 2 next season.
This year the Chiefs are led by sensational young quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who made veteran Alex Smith expendable (to Washington, now injured) and with no regrets from heads-up head coach Andy Reid. Mahomes has looked like a hybrid Gumby and Superman, making throws from ridiculous angles and runs unlike a quarterback, He leads NFL with 48 touchdown passes, tied for fourth most in league history - with the Raiders to go.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden side-stepped a bit when asked if Mahomes is the MVP of this season.
"I haven't seen everybody. I don't know how you can't be the MVP after you look at his body of work as a first-year starter," Gruden said Wednesday. "Not to take anything away from (Drew) Brees or anybody else that has played at a high level. This guy is making throws that people haven't seen before and closing in on 50 touchdown passes in your first year as a starter. It's quite amazing. He's taking care of the ball and he's won games for his team, so if I did have a vote I would probably stand here in front of these microphones and say, 'I vote for him.'"
Especially during the week before visiting the Chiefs.
SERIES HISTORY: 117th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead series, 62-52-2, and have won seven of the last eight games, including a 40-33 victory over the Raiders on Dec. 2 in Oakland. The Raiders haven't won in Kansas City since 2012. This is the 11th time the Chiefs and Raiders have played in the final game of the regular season, with Oakland holding a 6-4 record in those games.