KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The rivalry between the Kansas City and Oakland Raiders does not burn with the red-hot passion it once did, but rising stars on each side of the field create the potential for a competitive drama that harkens back to the days of yore.
“It’s going to be fun, we’re going to have fun out there,” Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters said. “They have become a great team in this league, and we’re trying to make that step right along with them.”
The Raiders (4-1) head into Sunday’s 3:05 kickoff against the Chiefs (2-2) led by California native Derek Carr at quarterback, carrying a 102.3 passer rating and on pace for more than 4,440 yards through the air with 35 touchdowns.
The Chiefs counter with Oakland born-and-raised Peters, the fiery pass defender with ball-hawking skills that already put him in class by himself.
In the era of free agency and big contracts, the rivalry only matters when both teams win, and Carr and Peters are making their teams relevant.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said his defense has its hands full facing an athletic quarterback with the ability to get rid of the football quickly to a talented group of receivers.
“I think Derek has had a great year,” Sutton said. “He’s taking care of the football. He’s making big plays.”
A year ago at Oakland, Peters intercepted a Carr pass intended for Amari Cooper and returned it 58 yards to set up a touchdown in the Chiefs’ 34-20 win. Raiders coach Jack Del Rio is wary of how Peters can impact a game.
“He’s a guy that will take a risk and is capable of making big plays against you,” Del Rio said.
But Peters also drew a 15-yard penalty after engaging Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree following a Raiders touchdown pass.
“I was so excited to get home,” Peters said. “I was so overwhelmed and ready to go home.”
With great emotion comes great responsibility for Peters. The fire that fuels his shutdown-corner caliber defense can boil over in a moment of passion.
“It’s my weakness for sure,” Peters said. “It’s something my mom always told me, I’ve got to learn how to balance some of my emotions. They come out the wrong way sometimes and be at the wrong times.”
Despite – or maybe as a result of – that passion, coach Andy Reid doesn’t want his young corner to change.
“He loves to play the game, and that’s what I like about him,” Reid said. “He knows. He gets it.”
Peters says he tries to manage his emotions, not because Reid tells him to, but because his coach lets him be himself.
“They told us they want us to be ourselves around here, so they allow for me to be myself,” Peters said. “Everybody is going to (mess) up sometime, so you got to fix it and move on.”
Reid believe Peters has matured in a short period of time.
“He grew up a Raiders fan – the whole deal,” Reid said. “ I think it’s exciting, but on the other hand, he’s a Chief and he has to prepare himself for the game. That’s how he does – he’ll be good. Last year, he probably learned a couple things.”
Peters says this year’s game in Oakland will be different than his first trip. Many of the jitters are gone, and first place in the AFC West is on the line. Peters knows the numbers Carr has put up through five games, and that much rests on him slowing down the Raiders passing attack.
“I’m going to have fun, a whole lot of fun,” Peters said. “Like my granny would tell me, just go do my thing. Let me have fun, let me have fun with my teammates. We’re going to put on a show for the town and call it that.”