The Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs finished the season with a loss and a win, respectively, which means they have identical 12-4 win-loss records.
Since the Chiefs won the series 2-0, the American Football Conference West championship goes to the boys from the Show Me State.
So where does that leave the Raiders? They’re down, but they’re not out.
The Raiders will face the Houston Texans as a wild card in the first round of the AFC playoffs, while the Chiefs get a first round bye.
But there are two more rounds.
Could the Chiefs and the Raiders face off for a third time in the AFC Playoffs? Could this be a case of three times lucky for the Raiders?
The prospect brings back memories of another era, when the the Western Division of the American Football League was all about two teams: The Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Déjà Vu All Over Again
There has never been any love lost between the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Raiders – Chiefs rivalry is, in fact, one of the fiercest rivalries in pro-sports, dating back more than half a century to the year 1960, when the now defunct American Football League was founded.
There were four teams in the AFL Western Division: the Dallas Texans, the Denver Broncos, the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Oakland Raiders.
Two of the teams moved cities, and one of the teams changed names.The Dallas Texans became the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Los Angeles Chargers became the San Diego Chargers.
When the AFL merged with the National Football League in 1970, the four rivals remained in the same division, which was renamed the AFC West.
There wasn’t much of a rivalry between the Raiders and the Chiefs in the early days of the AFL. To be honest, not everyone took the new league seriously.
The Chargers were an early success, winning the Western Division Championship five times in the first six seasons of AFL play.
The rivalry between Oakland and Kansas City only became heated in 1967, when Charles Finley bought the Kansas City Athletics and moved the baseball team to Oakland.
The Kansas City fans didn’t like that very much, and an intercity rivalry erupted.
To make things interesting, it happened at the very same time the Raiders were becoming a force to be reckoned with.
They also had what then was considered to be a state-of-the-art sports facility, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex.
The Raiders hadn’t done much up until then, whereas the Chiefs had already won the AFL Western Division championship twice: once in 1962 and again in 1966.
The Chiefs also played in the first inter-league championship game, the AFL-NFL World Championship, which was renamed the Super Bowl the following year.
First League Championship
With a 13-1 record, the Raiders won the AFL championship in 1967, representing the AFL in the first ever Super Bowl.
The Raiders won further AFL Western Division Championships in 1968 and 1969. They won AFC West Divisional Championships in 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1976. They won a wildcard berth in 1977 and 1980.
The Raiders won the Super Bowl in 1976 and 1980. They moved to Los Angeles in 1982.
In addition to their AFL Western Division Championship in 1966, the Chiefs won an AFC West Divisional Championship in 1971.
Conspicuous in their absence between 1966 and 1972 – during what I think of as the Raiders’ Glory Years – were the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers.
For six straight years, it was the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs playing King of the Mountain in the AFL/AFC West.
And it wasn’t always pretty.
The teams finished the 1968 season with identical 12-2 records. Oakland prevailed the playoffs, beating Kansas City by a convincing score of 41-6.
The following year, Oakland beat Kansas City twice during regular season play, but had to play Kansas City in the AFL Championship Game.
Is the Playoff Concept Fair?
While it is accepted today, the whole playoff concept was new at the time, and not everyone agreed with the idea that after after taking first place in the regular season, a team could still be knocked out by a team below them in the standings.
I clearly remember the resentment.
“How many times do we have to beat the Chiefs to win the championship?” fans were asking.
The Chiefs might have gone into the match as underdogs, but they upset the Raiders by a score of 17-7.
The Chefs went on the Super Bowl, beating the heavily favoured Minnesota Vikings. It was their only Super Bowl Championship.
The Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs have faced each other twice a year for 57 consecutive seasons.
The Chiefs lead the series 62 to 52, with two games that ended in ties.
The Chiefs have beaten the Raiders five straight times, including twice this year.
Just like old times. Just like 1969. Only this time it’s the Raiders who have become the underdogs.