What’s on the line Saturday afternoon for the Kansas City Chiefs is simple.
Regardless of what happens around the AFC West, Kansas City is eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the Oakland Raiders.
For Oakland, the scenarios are a bit more complex and the Raiders could potentially stay alive another week with a loss, but losing to the Chiefs would still be a crushing blow to Oakland’s postseason aspirations.
“This is our playoff game,” Raiders QB Carson Palmer said. “We’ve spent a lot of time this week talking about where we are as a team and where we can end up if we don’t handle our business. We have to win. This is a must-win game, our backs are against the wall and that’s well known in this organization.”
When the Chiefs last met the Raiders, Oakland felt it was in prime position to win the AFC West with a 4-2 record. The Raiders had just made a blockbuster trade to acquire Palmer from the Bengals and looked like the team to beat in the division when San Diego began to falter.
But since Kansas City’s 28-0 win in Oakland on October 23rd, both teams have posted a 3-5 record and need the help of others to reach the postseason.
The Raiders enter Saturday’s showdown with the Chiefs losers of three-straight games.
“We’ve had a little bit of a rough stretch and had some tough losses,” Palmer said. “The good thing is that we have a chance to forget about all of that if we win the next two games and get a little help from the outside.”
That mentality is a mirror image of the Chiefs mindset this weekend, which should result in another classic game in the Chiefs/Raiders rivalry.
“This is what you play the game for – to have a chance to go to the playoffs,” Chiefs LB
What’s on the line? Here is a detailed list of the AFC West Playoff Scenarios.
Chiefs See Different Palmer
Carson Palmer’s tenure with the Raiders hasn’t gone without its share of struggles. The veteran quarterback has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and owns a 77.7 quarterback rating through seven games.
But even with Palmer’s up-and-down play, the Chiefs still see a much improved quarterback compared to the last time the two teams met.
“You can see that he’s settled down and that he’s gotten comfortable with his receivers,” S
Palmer made his Oakland debut against Kansas City in late October despite being acquired just days before the game. He went on to complete only 8-of-21 passes with three interceptions, including a pick-six, in the Raiders 28-0 loss.
Since then, Palmer has completed nearly 62% of his passes for 1,983 yards with 10 TDs and 10 INTs to post an 84.8 quarterback rating.
“As I look at him now, it looks like he is used to (his teammates),” Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel said. “He knows the receivers, he knows the runners, he knows the system and I thought last week he did a really good job of getting the ball to the playmakers, by what Detroit was giving him and he probably should have won the game.”
Saturday’s game will be Palmer’s ninth-career start against a Romeo Crennel-coached defense. The two once met twice a year when Crennel was head coach in Cleveland and Palmer served as Cincinnati’s starting quarterback.
Palmer carries a 5-3 career record against Crennel, completing 158-of-249 passes for 1,834 yards with 17 TDs and 13 INTs.
“The more you play against him, the more you have to guess,” Palmer said. “He does such a good job of changing things up and giving you different looks, different pressures, different alignments and different coverage. I’ve played against him in three different places and this may be his best group as far as the talent level of his defensive players from top-to-bottom.
“If there is one thing that I know, it’s that Romeo is a good coordinator. I don’t know what he’s going to come out in. I just know that they’ll be well-prepared and well-coached.”
21 and Counting
Succop last missed a kick on September 25th at San Diego. It was a 38-yard attempt that sailed wide right in Kansas City’s 20-17 loss. The miss also put an exclamation point on Succop’s first-career kicking slump and the Chiefs 0-3 start to the season.
After beginning the year connecting on just two of his first five field goals, Succop is one make away from tying Pete Stoyanovich’s team-record 22 consecutive made field goals.
“I’m just taking it one kick at a time,” Succop said. “I know that sounds cliché, but it’s so true because if you start thinking about going after records it’s easy to lose focus.”
Succop’s 21 straight makes is the longest active streak in the NFL. He also won AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second time this season after connecting on all four field goal attempts in Sunday’s 19-14 victory over Green Bay.
A high ankle sprain continues to slow safety
Outside of McGraw, the Chiefs are relatively healthy entering Week 16.
Chiefs Injury Report
Limited Practice: S Jon McGraw (Ankle), C
Raiders Injury Report
Did Not Practice: QB Jason Cambell (Collarbone), WR Jacoby Ford (Foot), DT John Henderson (Knee), S Michael Huff (Hamstring), RB Darren McFadden (Foot), WR Louis Murphy (Groin)
Limited Practice: RB Michael Bush (Shoulder), RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring), DT Tommy Kelly (Toe)
Full Practice: RB Rock Cartright (Calf), S Matt Giordano (Shoulder), CB Bryan McCann (Concussion), WR Denarius Moore (Foot), CB Stanford Routt (Knee), C Samson Satele (Shoulder), WR Chaz Schilens (Hip)