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On The Line In Oakland

Posted Oct 20, 2011

Chiefs and Raiders both see the importance in Sunday's rivalry matchup

The Chiefs have been outspoken about the importance of Sunday’s game in Oakland. It’s a flip game for Kansas City. A chance to continue riding a hot streak and push back towards the top of the division.

As important as Sunday’s rivalry game is to the Chiefs, it seems to be just as important to the Raiders.

“It’s a big game for us,” Raiders DT Richard Seymour said. “We’re not looking past the Chiefs. It’s a big game and they always play us tough. It’s always a dogfight and we expect nothing less.”

Just as the Chiefs are hoping to make a revived run in the division, Oakland is hoping to create separation before a pivotal date with San Diego November 10th. The Chiefs and Broncos both travel to O.Co Coliseum prior to that meeting with Oakland’s bye week sandwiched in between.

There’s a renewed sense of pride in Oakland with the passing of Al Davis paired with the Raiders’ inspired play. The Raiders are currently riding a two-game win streak and playing what looks to be the best football of any team in the division.

 “We are obviously playing in (Al Davis’) honor,” noted Seymour. “We are wearing a patch on our helmet and he meant a lot to this organization and to the players here. He was instrumental around the league and we want to honor him every game of the season in terms of our play. He was a very passionate man and we want to play that way as well.”

For a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2002 and has won an average of just over four and a half games per year during that timeframe, this is a stretch of games that can be a difference maker for the Raiders franchise.

This weekend’s game is the second of three-straight home dates before Oakland travels to San Diego. The Raiders started their home stand last week with a 24-17 victory over Cleveland.

“I know KC would say they have the best fans in the league because it definitely gets loud there, but this is a rowdy place to play here in Oakland,” Seymour said.

“You can think about a year or two ago where Denver got off to a 6-0 start and didn’t even make the playoffs. It’s still early in the season and nothing is determined at this point. Last time I checked, Kansas City won the division. We know that this is a big matchup for us.”

With the exception of losing starting quarterback Jason Campbell to a broken collarbone, Oakland has a lot of good things going for them right now.

Darren McFadden is leading the NFL in rushing, helping Oakland average an AFC-best 160.0 rushing yards per game on the ground. No team in the NFL can top Oakland’s 157.0 rushing average dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season.

A stingy defensive unit is also taking advantage of Shane Lechler’s league-leading 53.1-yard punting average and Oakland is flipping field position on opponents. Sebastian Janikowski has hit from seemingly everywhere, knocking through five field goals of 50 yards in Oakland’s first six games. His 63-yarder in the season opener at Denver tied an NFL record.

“This bye week couldn’t have come at a better time, I think, for our team,” Chiefs QB Matt Cassel said. “It allowed us to get a little extra time on a good opponent coming up here with the Raiders and at the same time, gave us a little rest and allowed our team to heal a little bit.

“Everybody is ready to go and hopefully that’ll translate into a good, successful win on Sunday.”

Seymour has the Chiefs attention as well. At age 32, he’s still one of the NFL’s top defensive linemen and was instrumental in keeping Kansas City’s offense out of rhythm in both meetings last season.

The Chiefs averaged just 2.8 yards per play in last year’s Week 17 loss to Oakland and just 4.2 yards per snap when traveling to the Black Hole last November.

“He’s one of the best defensive tackles in the game,” Cassel said. “He’s big, he’s physical, he plays hard and it’s hard to block him one-on-one because he’s a talented guy and he’s a wide load. I had an opportunity to play with him in New England and I think he’s a heck of a player. Obviously, he’s carried that over to Oakland as well.”

Of course, some things remain the same in Oakland as well.

With the Raiders leading the league in penalties yet again, Kansas City will look to turn in a much more disciplined effort than last year’s visit to the Black Hole. The Chiefs were flagged a season-high 12 times for 100 yards in last season’s 23-20 overtime loss at Oakland.

The penalties, paired with two giveaways, were self-destructive for the Chiefs.

“I know last year was last year and they did a good job on us when they played us last year, but at the same time, it’s a new year and we’ve got to go out there and be prepared for who we’re playing this year,” said Cassel.

This year’s matchup isn’t unlike countless others in the Chiefs and Raiders 104-game rivalry. There’s a lot on the line for both teams this Sunday in Oakland.

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