Tom Cable has been well-schooled in the history of the Raiders-Chiefs rivalry from his days growing up an Oakland fan.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Tom Cable has been well-schooled in the history of the Raiders-Chiefs rivalry from his days growing up an Oakland fan.
From the days of Len Dawson and Hank Stram against John Madden and Daryle Lamonica until now, Cable has been an interested observer.
"These two teams would battle in the AFC," Cable said leading up to his first game against Kansas City as Oakland's interim head coach. "That's how it was and whoever was going to win it would probably have a chance to go to the championship game. To me, I remember those games and that's a big deal."
For two teams with a rich history and a host of memorable meetings dating back to the original AFL, the rivalry has rarely been as bleak as it is heading into this week's game between the Chiefs (1-10) and Raiders (3-8).
Through the first 44 years of the franchises, they both had losing records in the same season only three times. With one more loss by the Raiders, it will happen for the third time in the past five years. In fact, this has the potential to be the worst combined season ever for the franchises, topping last year's mark of 24 losses.
Only a handful of players on each team have played this rivalry when both teams were near the top of their games, taking something away from the venom that used to exist.
"When you got a young team, sometimes they lose track of that," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "But they have to understand that they are always going to play the teams in your division a bunch. So, they have to understand that, and that's kind of important."
Cable's attitude toward Oakland's division foes is a stark contrast to how predecessor Lane Kiffin approached these games. Kiffin downplayed rivalries, saying he never understood how a coach could ask his players to place more importance on one game over another.
The Raiders went 3-6 in division games under Kiffin, but won their first since Cable took over last week with a 31-10 win in Denver.
"You have to approach it that way," Cable said. "Anything that's in your own division is just a little bit more special. If you're ever going to get to the point where you can win your division and kind of be the king of your division, if you will, you have to make it really, really personal. That's what it is."
Cable even had defensive backs coach Willie Brown address the team last Saturday night to talk about the importance of the Raiders-Broncos rivalry. Brown even got a game ball for his efforts following the 31-10 victory.
Cable will have someone else do the honors this week as he tries to teach his players about the history of this rivalry.
"When you come out here, you just get a feel for it in the locker room and from the coaches and different players who have been here and actually played in the games," Raiders rookie running back Darren McFadden said.
The Chiefs have been on a downward spiral since leaving Oakland a year ago in first place in the AFC West with a 4-3 record. Kansas City has won just once in 20 games since, even losing two home games to the Raiders to snap a nine-game winning streak in the rivalry.
A rebuilding effort has had some positives this year, like the development of quarterback Tyler Thigpen, but just the lone win against Denver two months ago.
"It's been a long haul for us," Edwards said. "There's no doubt about it, last year what we went through and then the rebuilding program that we're in now with all these young guys. It's been hard. There's no doubt about it. It's been hard. But when you decide to do what we've done, blow it up and start all over with all these young players, the thing you know is that you're building something. I see it."
It was hard to see much in last week's 54-31 loss to Buffalo. The Chiefs committed five turnovers and gave up the most points in franchise history after being competitive the previous four weeks.
They hope the familiar surroundings of Oakland, where they have won five straight games, will help stem the tide.
"It's been downhill since we won there," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "But we know how to win there. That's the good thing. I don't think I've lost there. It will be a good showing for us to get back on the road. We need to get a win."
The Raiders are hoping to follow up on last week's win in Denver, when they snapped a four-game slide and ended a 15-quarter drought without an offensive touchdown.
They scored three second-half TDs against the Broncos, getting the best performance of young JaMarcus Russell's career. Russell completed 10 of 11 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown as the Raiders finally are starting to show some progress under Cable.
"In terms of turning the corner and all that, I think you have to answer that after Sunday," Cable said. "To me, you win a game, it makes you feel good. You win two games now you can start to believe. That's the approach we're taking this week."
AP Sports Writer Doug Tucker in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.