Exposing false narratives about the Chiefs and Raiders

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 11: The Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs prepare for the snap during the first quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 11: The Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs prepare for the snap during the first quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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False narratives have been circulating about the Chiefs and Raiders both in recent days.

If you listen closely, you’ve likely heard them: false narratives at work about both the Las Vegas Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. In the days leading up to the showdown between the AFC West rivals in Week 5, the untrue statements could be heard about the Raiders, whereas in the days since the home loss for K.C., a new (and wrong) perspective is being parroted around NFL circles.

Both sides need to be unveiled.

For the Raiders, the false narratives focused on a picture much-too-large for the current season. Jon Gruden was laughed at. Derek Carr was ridiculed. The past was held over the head of a Raiders that had—in all honesty (speaking of true narratives)—turned in a long string of miserable performances in years past. Those don’t need to be rehashed here, since we likely all participated in their sharing in the days before Week 5.

In this instance, the false narrative was informed by the past with no regard for the present. There was no acknowledgement that the Raiders could ever change. They held no agency. Their success or failure was contingent only on the Chiefs’ dominance—as if they’d win only if the Chiefs lost the game.

Little-to-no attention was paid to the growing collection of impressive young talent. Draft picks like Kolton Miller or Clelin Ferrell were ridiculed when selected (typically for the positions at which they were taken). Nonetheless both have matured into key young contributors in the trenches. Henry Ruggs was as good as advertised, and a Steve Atwater clone known as Jonathan Abram shook up the Chiefs offense with multiple big hits.

Until Sunday, the Chiefs posture was largely, “Oh, how cute!” when asked to consider the Raiders’ trajectory. The fact is that Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have the Raiders pointed in the right direction. It’s a major leap forward to say the Chiefs are no longer the favorites in the division or that the Raiders will even beat them the next time around. However, the false narrative needs to be unveiled.

Here’s what is true: The Las Vegas Raiders are a talented, young football team that has turned the corner and a team needs to play very good football to beat them.

What’s so unnerving in the wake of the Chiefs loss to the Raiders is that, just as wrong as the narrative was going into the game, another set of false assumptions has arisen coming out of it.

Over the last few days, respect for Andy Reid and company has plummeted. The story told tries to undermine the Chiefs 4-1 record by negating the quality of those wins. In particular, the lines used will include any or all of the following:

  • They defeated a Texans team only weeks before they fired their coach.
  • Their win over New England meant taking care of Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham.
  • They struggled to overcome the Chargers, who are now 1-4.
  • Except in short stints or one complete game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Chiefs have sputtered along against mediocre competition.

One week ago, the Chiefs were the defending champs, a team with 13 consecutive wins coached by arguably the best head coach in the game led by the best overall player in the game. Now they’re an exposed contender with several strengths but also numerous weaknesses with delusions of “running it back.” Raise your hand if you’ve read these takes.

To spread this narrative is to shortchange both the Raiders and the Chiefs. The Chiefs lost this game because the Raiders are actually a good team, but it’s also true that the Chiefs didn’t play well at all. From Mahomes and the offense to Tyrann Mathieu and the defense, the execution was poor, the play was sloppy, the errors were many, and the injuries didn’t help.

It is nearly impossible for any team to repeat as Super Bowl champions in this day and age of parity in the NFL. The ability of the Patriots to enjoy such a sustained run of success is the outlier here, and the Chiefs will face a major challenge to get back there again—let alone win—in 2020.

However, no team is built for that stretch run like the Chiefs. The experience and chemistry are there. The team has plenty of time to find answers and fix problems before it really counts. They lost four games last year in just this same midsection of the schedule and then went on to reel off a long string of victories when it mattered most down the stretch.

Trust me. When January comes, a team with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Sammy Watkins, and more on offense will accomplish just what they set out to do and a loss to the Raiders—or victories against questionable competition—doesn’t change any of that.

The Raiders deserve to be mentioned as a legitimately good team, and the Chiefs deserve to be honored as defending champs. Both narratives are true, and any efforts to delegitimize either are false.

Next. Chiefs fall in Week 5 power rankings. dark