Numbers Don't Lie

As soon as Ryan Succop nailed the game winner in overtime last Sunday, all I could think about was Sunday's contest at Oakland. I know going in the Chiefs are underdogs, even though they have won seven straight in the black hole.

But trouble could be looming not because of the Raiders, but thanks to daylight savings time.

I did the math. The Chiefs have a 12-14 record at Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland after Daylight Savings. In this series that began back in 1960, the Raiders dominated the Chiefs in this category for two decades. It wasn't until 1979, that the Chiefs won a game against the Raiders on the road after the time change.

In recent years, the Chiefs have turned that trend around significantly. The fact they've won their last seven against the Raiders has helped bridge the gap. On Sunday, the bigger picture is the fact, should the Chiefs win, they'll be the only opponents ever to win eight in a row against the Raiders on their turf.

Now what Chiefs fan wouldn't want to see that happen on Sunday? I can already see the look on the face of Al Davis. He's sitting in his suite, head down knowing the Chiefs lay claim to something that's never happened to the Silver and Black.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. The Chiefs have plenty of issues heading into this game.

They barely won a week ago against the Bills. In fact, the game was very reminiscent of the ones the two teams played in their AFL days. And that might be a similar tone this weekend at Oakland.

In the 60's, these teams had different approaches to scoring points. With Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson and Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica hurling the ball down the field, it was generally the passing game that set the tone for victory.

In 2009, Cassel won three of four road games as the Chiefs starter.
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However, both defenses were strong, stout, and tough. Sometimes a key interception or fumble would change the game.

This year, the teams once again mirror one another. The Chiefs and the Raiders run the ball as if there isn't anyone that can stop them. Both teams have quarterbacks that have the fan base jumpy.

In the offseason, the Raiders acquired Jason Campbell from the Redskins. In Kansas City, the fan base wanted to run Matt Cassel out of town.

Campbell has led his team to three wins in the last four games. Cassel has the Chiefs 5-2, atop the AFC West, and hasn't thrown an interception since Week 3. And honestly, that pick was on rookie tight end Tony Moeaki, who failed to secure the ball that hit him squarely in the chest and bounced into the waiting arms of a 49ers defender.

Still, on the play, Cassel was booed. Since then he's been flawless.

On the flip side, Campbell is probably playing his last game as a starter. Raiders head coach Tom Cable nearly put him on the bench in favor of Bruce Gradkowski. Either way, Campbell has something to prove on Sunday. If he wants to keep his starting gig, he must beat the Chiefs.

Cassel, though, is in the same boat. After struggling in two of the Chiefs three road games this season, he's under fire by the fans to win a big game.

However, taking a closer look, he did make the plays in the second half at Cleveland that propelled the Chiefs to victory. At Indy, had Dwayne Bowe not dropped a perfectly thrown pass in the end zone, he might have become a national hero in Kansas City.

A week later at Houston, he was salty, gritty and near flawless throwing three touchdowns, two of them to the equally maligned Bowe.

After losing his father earlier in the week, Matt Cassel led the Patriots to a 49-28 rout of the Raiders back in 2008.
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This Sunday, he goes to Oakland where he's 2-0 as a starter. In 2008, at the helm of the New England Patriots offense, he threw four touchdown passes just a few days after the death of his father, Greg Cassel.

You can't tell me that wasn't tough.

Last year, he led the Chiefs to an ugly 16-10 victory at the Coliseum. In fact, Cassel went 3-4 as the team's starting quarterback in 2009. In fact, you have to go back to 2003 to find a quarterback that's won more than three games away from Arrowhead.

The last to do it for the Chiefs was Trent Green who won five of them in leading Kansas City to an AFC West title and a 13-3 record.

Before that you have to go all the way back to the 1997 season to find another set of Chiefs quarterbacks that matched Green's accomplishment. That year, the combination of Elvis Grbac and Rich Gannon won five on the road.

So can Matt Cassel win three or more road wins again this season?

Should he win on Sunday, he'll be 2-2 with the likes of Denver, Seattle, San Diego and St. Louis standing in his way to match or exceed the road victory mark set by some of the quarterbacks that guided their respective teams to the playoffs.

Regardless, numbers don't lie. They're the great equalizer in the NFL. Generally, the team that has more offensive yards, gives up the fewest yards on defense, usually always wins.

But behind the numbers in this series rich history tells us that this game could go down to the final series.

And in the end, just a single number could determine who wins and who suffers a bitter defeat on Sunday.

But in this game, the only number of relevance will be the numbers shining brightly in the dusk early evening hours on the scoreboard at the Oakland Coliseum. That and nothing else will determine who wins the battle of two of the founding members of the AFL.

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