Chiefs coach Andy Reid couldn’t resist. A few hours after Reid arrived home from the Chiefs’ win at Tennessee, he grabbed the remote control for a late, late night of television viewing.
Reid tuned in to the Oakland-San Diego game that didn’t begin until 10:35 p.m. Sunday and got an early jump on preparations for his first look at the Raiders.
“I did a peek at it,” Reid said of the Raiders, who beat San Diego 27-17, and will come to Arrowhead Stadium for a noon game this Sunday, the unbeaten Chiefs’ first matchup against an AFC West team this season.
“It’s Raiders week, and I’m all about rivalries. It’s exciting. I know our fans are going to be completely crazy. I’ve got it. Our players will be fired up, too.”
The Chiefs-Raiders’ rivalry isn’t what it was during the Len Dawson-George Blanda era or Marty Schottenheimer’s dominance of the series in the 1990s.
But don’t tell Reid, a newcomer to the AFC West after spending 14 years in Philadelphia battling NFC East rivals Washington, Dallas and the New York Giants. It may be no accident that three of the Chiefs’ five victories have come against NFC East teams Reid knew so well.
“These types of rivalries are special in the National Football League,” Reid said. “It gets your juices flowing, and gets ’em flowing early. Black and silver … if anybody is wearing it, be careful.
“You know when you’re playing a rival … and it’s an AFC West team. That’s very important, too. Not that they all aren’t. Those become very important games. The fellas realize it.”
Despite their 5-0 mark, the Chiefs are locked in a tie for first in the AFC West with Denver, and they’ll need to beat Oakland to keep pace with the high-scoring Broncos.
While the Chiefs are playing Oakland in the first of three consecutive home games, the Broncos will be host to hapless and winless Jacksonville and are favored by 26 1/2 points in one of biggest point spreads in NFL history.
The Broncos’ 51-48 win at Dallas on Sunday extended a franchise record of 16 consecutive regular-season victories dating to last season, and set a club mark with eight straight road wins.
Quarterback Peyton Manning’s four touchdown passes against the Cowboys gave him 20 for the season, setting an NFL mark for most through a season’s first give games. He also passed Milt Plum’s 53-year-old league record for most touchdown (20) passes without an interception before he was picked late in the third quarter. That ended Manning’s streak of passes without an interception at a career-best 226 attempts.
The Broncos’ 29th-ranked defense (32nd against the pass) should improve when outside linebacker Von Miller returns after serving a six-game suspension.
And there’s this. Of the five times the Broncos have started 6-0 in their history, they reached the Super Bowl four times. The only exception was 2009 when they lost eight of their last 10 games under then-coach Josh McDaniels and missed the playoffs at 8-8.
Meanwhile, Oakland, 2-3, and San Diego, 2-3, would need total collapses by the Chiefs to work their way into contention in the AFC.
The Chargers are searching for an identity with new coach Mike McCoy, and turnovers have been a problem. San Diego turned the ball over five times in their loss to Oakland, and while quarterback Philip Rivers’ 13 touchdown passes rank second in the AFC only to Manning’s 20, Rivers has thrown five interceptions, including three at Oakland, for the third-most in the conference.
The Raiders, under second-year coach Dennis Allen, have settled on third-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor as their starter. Pryor played brilliantly against San Diego — completing 18 of 23 passes for 221 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions — and the Raiders released veteran Matt Flynn on Monday, leaving them with two rookies behind Pryor.
Before facing Oakland, the Chiefs need to shore up some of their offensive shortcomings, Reid said, especially in the red zone and on third down.
The Chiefs scored just one touchdown in four opportunities inside the 20 against Tennessee and converted just one third down in 12 chances.
Of those third downs, five were 10 yards or more, including a third-and-25, because of penalties. The only third down the Chiefs converted was on an 11-yard pass from Alex Smith to Jamaal Charles.
“You can’t make a living doing that,” Reid said of the third-down inefficiency. “You’ve got to shorten the third-down yardage-wise, too. We start hitting those third and kazillion … that that you don’t have a lot of calls for those particular spots. You’ve got to keep your third downs more manageable, and I’ve got to do a better job making sure I get these guys in the right position and call the right plays for them.”