The AFC West showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders on Sunday was already emerging as a possible shooting.
The drama of a triple tie in the division plus the suspension of Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peter and the injury status of wide receiver Amari Cooper makes this Week 7 rematch convincing.
Oakland scored a wild win of 31-30 in the first meeting of this season thanks to a touchdown at a time out of play after it expired.
"It was a fantastic game, very entertaining, no doubt for the fans," said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. "It was a hotly contested ball game, A lot of production from both sides and we could win. "
The fortunes of the two clubs oscillate brutally since October night in Oakland. The Chiefs entered the game with a 5-1 record, building a divisional lead. The Raiders entered the game 2-4 on a losing streak of four games and watched their postseason aspirations escape.
Now both clubs are placed at the top of the AFC along with the Los Angeles Chargers. The teams face each other during the last month of the season, creating a sort of round-robin for the division title.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid tries to minimize the idea of a make or break game, but left little doubt about the importance of Sunday's noon match at Arrowhead Stadium.
"You have to go out, you have to play well, you have to do the things where you come from," Reid said. "This is how this league is." We like to say week to week, but it really is like that. We say it but this league is so competitive and every week is an important week. It is not different from this week here. It's very, very important. "
Del Rio said the teams understand the importance of late season divisional games.
" You like to think that as a coach you bring that intensity every week, but I think guys you're playing twice a year and you know a little better, there's a bit of natural tenancy to increase it, "Del Rio said.
Chiefs' quarterback Alex Smith agrees.
" These are games very close, "said Smith." They are close and they are reduced to the smallest of things. You scratch and fight for all those little things. You anticipate that it is probably a similar situation, reaching the end of the game and who can play. "
Both teams may have incentives to find greater ferocity this week with the absences charging a toll Reid suspended his cornerback All-Pro Peters For the game after its outbreak during Sunday's 38-31 loss to the New York Jets, Peters picked up an official penalty flag and threw it into the crowd before going to the locker room with more than two minutes left.
Cooper's availability is still a question mark for the Raiders – he missed Sunday's 24-17 victory over the New York Giants with a concussion.
He came out of the league concussion protocol this week, but He stays on the sidelines with an ankle injury, and Cooper set the Chiefs on fire for 11 receptions and 210 yards with two touchdowns in Week 7.
The Chiefs play They played that game without cornerback Steven Nelson, who missed the first seven games with a muscle injury. The club also added veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis, who made his Chiefs debut on Sunday against the Jets.
Del Rio continues to distrust the Chiefs' defense even without Peters.
"Obviously every time a player falls it's an injury, it's something like this, you treat it the same and I'm sure they will," said Del Rio. "You pass to the next player, they have good players. it's the Raiders against the Chiefs and we all have to adjust depending on what different types are available or not. "
Oakland also has a little used weapon in its last outing against the Chiefs. Runner Marshawn Lynch ran just twice for nine yards before getting a disqualification from the game. He rushed on the field after Peters earned a flag for unnecessary roughness by hitting quarterback Derek Carr.
"I think he has done a good job for us," Del Rio said. "We are happy to have him, he has been very effective, he passed more than 100 yards last week, which was the first time in the year, we like the way he is working on it."
Coaches may not want to admit the importance of a single game, but Smith admits the importance of the jam at the top of the AFC West standings and the previous triumph of the Oakland Raiders. 19659002] "This is, we're in the fourth quarter of the season," Smith said. "Three of the four are division games, these next two is a three-way tie, we'll play with the other two guys these next two weeks, we can not get ahead, right here we have a team that beat us earlier this year. and we have to find a way to bounce. "