The Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders have combined to win five of the last seven AFC West titles. The long-time division rivals find themselves playing for pride as they square off at Network Associates Coliseum.
Neither team has much else to play for after failing to stay in serious playoff contention over the first 11 games of the season.
Kansas City is looking to halt its first four-game losing streak since 2001 after suffering a 34-31 setback to division-leading San Diego last weekend.
The Chiefs are expected to have quarterback Trent Green as their starter despite his bruised ribs and hip, which kept him out of practice almost all week.
Green took most of the snaps during Friday’s practice, and coach Dick Vermeil said Green told him he felt good and there was no reason he could not play. Vermeil said his final decision on whether to start Green or backup Todd Collins would be made Saturday.
Green is tied with Minnesota’s Daunte Culpepper for the NFL lead with five 300-yard passing games. He’s completed 247 of 372 passes for 3,052 yards with 15 TDs and 10 interceptions this season. His 59 consecutive starts are a team record for a quarterback.
Oakland has lost six of its last eight, and is looking for its first home win since beating Tampa Bay 30-20 on Sept. 26.
However, the Raiders enter the contest on a winning note after pulling out a wild 25-24 victory at Denver during a snowstorm Sunday night.
“I think if a win like this is an isolated example, then that’s what it is,” Oakland coach Norv Turner said. “But really what I see, is that it makes it a lot easier to get going again this week.”
The Chiefs rank third in the league in scoring at 27.9 points per game, but are allowing 27.2, third-worst in the NFL.
Expected by many to contend for a Super Bowl this season, Kansas City is instead playing out the string.
“I thought we’d still be a very good football team and I thought we’d be a playoff team.” Vermeil said. “I still think this is a pretty good football team, but we’re not a playoff team for a number of reasons, number one, because we’re minus seven in turnovers and we’ve given up too many big plays on defense. When you do those things you don’t normally make the playoffs.”
The Chiefs are on pace to finish the year with a negative turnover mark for just the second time since 1990, while Oakland’s minus-15 ratio is better only than San Francisco’s league-worst -16 differential.
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