The Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, birthed by the forefathers of the American Football League, have been going at it since 1960, when the Chiefs were known as the Dallas Texans and the Silver and Black sported Black and Gold. The two franchises appeared in the first two Super Bowls and remained bitter rivals through the John Madden era, the Raiders’ move to Los Angeles (and back), Joe Montana’s move from the Bay to the K, the Rich Gannon resurgence and beyond.
The rivalry has stayed dormant on the national stage for some years now, ever since Oakland spiraled into irrelevance post-Jon Gruden. But now in 2016, both the Raiders and Chiefs are playoff, nay, Super Bowl contenders, boosted by gutsy play-calling, transcendent defenders, timely turnovers and breakout offensive weapons.
Smith’s numbers during the Chefs’ nine-game winning streak (68.6 percent completion rate, 12 passing touchdowns, two picks, 26 attempts per game) are pedestrian in a fantasy football sense, but a quick study of the All-22 Coaches Film reveals a quarterback with a keen understanding of how to play the game based on his own individual talents. Smith is a deadly accurate intermediate passer with a terrific feel for throwing the ball between multiple defenders on passes directed between the numbers. He displays nice anticipation and timing on seam routes, short and intermediate crossers and spot routes near the hashes.
As I dug into the All-22 Coaches Film, I was impressed with how Reid and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson have featured Smith’s favorite routes prominently in the game plan. Smith is absolutely torching opponents down the seams; the coaching staff has done a great job of dictating the terms to the defense to create big-play opportunities. This is particularly apparent in the red zone, where the Chiefs are wearing opponents out with various seams and skinny posts against single-high coverage (Cover 1 or Cover 3) or blitz pressure.
It would be easy to make this all about Manning right now (a dynamic that will be discussed later in this space). Instead, this is more about what the Chiefs have been trying to achieve during the Andy Reid era — and how often the Broncos have knocked them back into submissiveness.
“I don’t think they necessarily get in our head,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “Certainly these guys are the division champs since we’ve all been here together. … We’ve gone in (and) two times having fourth-and-goal and the chance to win the game and didn’t get it done. We talk about what we want to do in winning the division and going to the playoffs. And it starts with your division.”
Sankey was signed off New England’s practice squad to bolster a backfield that saw lead runner Spencer Ware leave Sunday’s win over the Colts with a concussion. While Charcandrick West is the obvious next man up, Sankey serves as insurance after Charles suffered a setback with his knee in Week 7.
Sankey notched 762 yards rushing at 3.8 yards per carry over two seasons in Tennessee before the Titans released the former second-round pick prior to the opener.
With 60 appearances but just two starts as a pro, Johnson can’t mask the loss of Berry, who chose not to report to camp after failing to reach a long-term deal with the club prior to the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players.
Ron Parker, Jamell Fleming, Daniel Sorensen and cheap jerseys and Stevie Brown have all seen safety snaps during camp, but Johnson gives the club an extra body to use during practice and preseason games. He’s no sure bet to make the team once Berry returns, but the Pro Bowler’s absence has given Johnson another shot at making an NFL roster.
“Eric’s one of our good players and he’s in the business side of it right now,” Reid said. “This is all part of the profession, so I get it. But I also know when he comes in he’s going to be in great shape, he’ll be able to get himself back before the first game and be ready to go because that’s the way he A’$r:bdYHkind of shape he keeps himself in.”
With the deadline for tagged players to receive a new contract passed (July 1.zX< Lrj-rꬽSzˢ-term deal until after the Chiefs' season ends. He'll play 2016 on the $10.806 million tag.