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ProFootballTalk: Will Ravens restructure for veterans?

Ozzie Newsome won’t entertain the idea of restructuring contracts in order to keep veteran players on expensive deals. So who is at risk of being cut? Mike Florio says future doesn’t look so bright for Anquan Boldin and Terrell Suggs.

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Witness: Will Smith was the aggressor

A supporter of Cardell Hayes holds signs outside Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, during a break in Hayes' murder trial in New Orleans, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. Hayes killed former NFL New Orleans Saints player Will Smith in a road rage incident, in which Smith's wife, Racquel Smith was also shot and wounded. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) AP

The man who shot and killed former Saints defensive end Will Smith is relying on the “stand your ground” defense. That defense got a boost on Thursday, via the trial testimony of Kevin O’Neal.

O’Neal, a friend of defender Cardell Hayes, testified that Smith was the aggressor. Pressed by a prosecutor regarding the reality that Smith’s family no longer has him in their lives, O’Neal reportedly became loud.

Did her husband bring [about] his own demise?” O’Neal said, via “I’m just asking. He attacked [Hayes] from the beginning to the end of that situation. At no point in time did I ever see [Hayes] irate or aggressive with anyone out there. At no point in time, my God’s honest truth, did I ever see [Hayes] get angry.”

O’Neal made his opinion clear:  “Before anyone was shot, Mr. Hayes was under attack as well as myself. Point blank period.”

The testimony from O’Neal, along with all other evidence that will be introduced, demonstrates the ugly, awkward task of reconstructing words, deeds, and emotions when attempting to determine whether a killing was justified under the “stand your ground” law. It’s one thing to support self-defense in the abstract; it’s another thing to determine whether self-defense actually occurred, or whether it’s being used as a safe harbor for criminal misconduct.

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John Greco likely needs Lisfranc surgery too, like his teammate

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 20:  John Greco #77 of the Cleveland Browns stands on the sidelines before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Browns 31-13.  (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns have cycled through plenty of quarterbacks this year because of injuries, which is not unrelated to the injuries on their offensive line.

But at least they get to save on medical scooters.

Browns right guard John Greco said he likely has the same kind of Lisfranc injury that knocked Joel Bitonio out for the season. The only good news is he gets to use the same scooter Bitonio used while he awaits surgery. He’s going to see specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte next week, and will likely have surgery then. The rehab could last a year, which could complicate next season as well.

“I know [fluky],” Greco said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Two in one year if that’s what it is. I would think it is [Lisfranc]. . . .

“It was weird. I was in the training room. He [Bitonio] rolled in, and they were like, ‘Hey, give that to John.’ It was crazy how it worked out. It’s hard for me to understand. It’s such a long recovery. But you’re out of the boot and you’re able to walk. But it’s like why does it take such a long time [to recover]?”

Greco started 12 games for the Browns this year, 10 at guard and two at center before being placed on IR. He’ll be replaced by former Arizona first-round pick Jonathan Cooper, who was claimed off waivers from the Patriots earlier this year.

The Browns have allowed 45 sacks this season, most in the league. So good luck, Robert Griffin III.

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Derek Carr’s performance throws MVP race open

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 8: Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders is sacked by defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches #99 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium during the first quarter of the game on December 8, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) Getty Images

Recently, the PFT Live question of the day focused on the MVP through 12 weeks of the season. And the winner was Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

Now? Not.

With a 17-for-41 performance for only 117 yards (an average of a paltry 2.85 yards per attempt) in his team’s biggest game of the year to date, Carr will win the MVP award only if he chases last night’s debacle with stellar performances — and only if the other primary candidates collapse.

Benefiting from Carr’s backfire are Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and maybe even Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. For now, the race feels wide open, with Brady and Prescott arguably the closest thing to favorites.

Regardless, Thursday night confirmed that it can change quickly. At this point, it’s as much a process of elimination as it is confirmation, with the avoidance of a disastrous performance even more important than putting together a strong one.

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Doug Whaley on Tyrod Taylor: We will look at the entire season

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills looks to pass against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on December 4, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s future in Buffalo has been a frequent topic of conversation this week.

When Bills coach Rex Ryan discussed Taylor’s play and future with the team on Monday, he said “let’s just let this play out” before correcting course a bit on Wednesday and calling Taylor, who has seen his numbers decline in several key areas from last season, an “outstanding quarterback.” Taylor faced his own questions on that front on Wednesday and cut the session with reporters short after saying criticism of his play “doesn’t affect me emotionally or physically.”

It was General Manager Doug Whaley’s turn on Friday. During an appearance on WGR 550, Whaley’s response sounded a lot like Ryan’s initial comment about taking everything into consideration.

“You got to look at the whole season,” Whaley said, via “He’s got four more games to write this chapter. And then after this season, like everybody on the team, we’re going to do the evaluation, and we’ll go from there. But this season is one of those things where he’s done some things really good to get us to six wins. But just like everybody on the team, there are some plays that he wishes he could do over.”

The Bills have to make a decision about whether to give Taylor more than $30 million over the next two seasons early in the next league year, which makes the evaluation of where he is a crucial one for the franchise. They also need to confirm that Ryan and Whaley will be the ones making that evaluation, something that the next four weeks are also likely to impact.

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Derek Carr wont blame pinky finger for performance

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 08:  Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field after the Raiders failed to make a first down during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on December 8, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Derek Carr wasn’t going to blame the weather, and he wasn’t going to blame his messed-up finger.

Mostly, he blamed himself, which seems like the most accurate thing about his night.

The Raiders quarterback turned in one of his worst games as a pro in last night’s loss to the Chiefs, at a time when many were touting him as an MVP candidate. Carr was a dreadful 17-of-41 passing for 117 yards, with no touchdowns. He didn’t throw a pick either, but that 49.1 passer rating was indicative of his night.

It was definitely a bad night, no way of getting around that,” Carr said, via Scott Bair of “I hate to have a bad night coming on this one, out of all the games we’ve had. Obviously, we didn’t do enough.

“I feel very responsible for that because of being the leader of the offense and the team. I feel sick to my stomach when we put something like that out there on film. It hurts, I can promise you that. I put too much time into this to go do something like that.”

Carr is still feeling the effects of the dislocated right (throwing) pinky finger, which couldn’t have helped in frigid conditions, but he didn’t want to use that as an excuse.

“It definitely wasn’t the finger’s fault,” Carr said. “Everything about tonight was unusual, to be honest. To have our defense step up for us and make plays, and for us to go out there and not execute, do things we don’t do. . . . That’s why it’s frustrating. That why I promise you I’m not worried.

“We played awful. It wasn’t good enough, but I’m not worried because I know the guys in the locker room. I’m not worried one bit, but it just sucks. We have to take it. We have to take the punch, but I’m not worried. I think we’re going to bounce back.”

If they’re going to, they’re going to have to have Carr return to the way he was playing, in practically every other game this season.

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Friday morning one-liners

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys warms up on the field prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills could have wide receivers Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins on the field at the same time for the first time since Week Two.

Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph isn’t happy with how his unit played last weekend.

Patriots TE Martellus Bennett promised a better outing than he had last week.

C Nick Mangold may have played his final snap for the Jets.

Ravens TE Dennis Pitta expects the Patriots to pay a lot of attention to him.

The Bengals are moving T Cedric Ogbuehi back to the left side.

Browns G John Greco may need foot surgery.

The Steelers may not have DT Javon Hargrave this weekend.

The Texans hope to do a better job in run defense against the Colts.

Colts LB Trent Cole wasn’t sure he’d play again after his back injury.

The Jaguars kick coverage will need to be good against the Vikings.

Resting during the bye week helped Titans RB DeMarco Murray’s toe injury.

Run defense will be big for the Broncos this weekend.

Chiefs RB Charcandrick West wore a t-shirt honoring the late Joe McKnight under his jersey on Thursday night.

Thursday night was a bad time for Raiders QB Derek Carr’s hot streak to end.

A strong season has erased some doubts about Chargers CB Casey Hayward.

It’s time for Cowboys TE Jason Witten to start a new catch streak.

The Giants will have to come up with a way to deal with DE Jason Pierre-Paul’s absence.

An upgrade at wide receiver is needed for the Eagles.

Said Redskins DL A.J. Francis of picking No. 69, “I chose 69 because I wore 96 in college, and 96 was taken here. Everywhere I’ve been, when 96 was taken I got 69. Also because I’m big and nasty. That’s why I wear 69. That’s the truth.”

The Bears like the way RB Jordan Howard has progressed over his rookie season.

Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter wants better production in the red zone.

Sunday brings a chance for Packers RB Christine Michael to see his former Seahawks teammates.

The Vikings look forward to having PR Marcus Sherels back in the lineup.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn cited CB Robert Alford’s speed when discussing reasons for his contract extension.

A look at what the future might hold for some of the older members of the Panthers.

FB John Kuhn has found a role in the Saints’ running and passing games.

Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter won’t try to downplay the importance of this Sunday’s game.

Some of Cardinals RB David Johnson’s predecessors evaluated his performance this season.

Rams CB Trumaine Johnson was a big Monopoly fan during college.

49ers coach Chip Kelly said the York family were “godsends” for their response to his father’s death.

Snow is on Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s mind with a trip to Green Bay coming this weekend.

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Goodell says “tremendous support” in London justifies four games

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on stage during an NFL Fan Rally at the NFL House in Victoria House, in London, Saturday Oct. 22, 2016. Los Angeles Rams are due to play the New York Giants at Twickenham stadium in London on Sunday in a regular season NFL game. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland) AP

The NFL has officially announced what was previously reported, that there will be four regular-season games in London next season. And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is giving no hint that the league might slow down on its plans to continue growing the game in England.

“We continue to be incredibly excited by the passion and love for the NFL shown by our millions of UK fans,” Goodell said in a statement. “London is an amazing city. We have had tremendous support from our fans, from Mayor Khan and other government leaders and business partners, and we are looking forward to taking the next step in the UK by playing four games in London next season.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement distributed by the NFL that he’s hoping the league will eventually put a team in London on a permanent basis.

“London is the international home of the NFL and staging the equivalent of what would be half an American football team’s home games in the city is a huge step towards my ambition of bringing a franchise to the capital,” Khan said.

The 2017 season will be the first to have four games in London. The NFL first played a regular-season game in London in 2007 and had one regular-season game there every year through 2012. In 2013 the NFL expanded to two games in London, and for the last three years the league has played three games in London.

The league has not announced any specific games that will be played in London next season, but it is expected that the Jaguars’ “home” game against the Ravens will be in London. The Rams are also expected to give up a home game to play in London.

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Kiko Alonso dealing with hamstring issue along with broken thumb

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:   Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers drops a pass as  Kiko Alonso #47 of the Miami Dolphins defends during the first half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Kiko Alonso had thumb surgery this week, but that might not be the thing that keeps him off the field this week against the Cardinals.

According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins linebacker is also dealing with a hamstring strain which might be the thing that knocks him out.

He initially tweaked the hamstring in practice last week and aggravated it during the Ravens game, the same one in which he broke his thumb. And because of that, he isn’t sure he’ll be able to go this week.

“Right now, I don’t know,” Alonso said. “We’re going to day by day. Today I felt good. We’ll see.”

Alonso said a decision on whether he can play or not will be made him coaches, medical staff and himself. He’s wearing a large cast, but still has use of four fingers on his hand. But the hamstring might make that a moot point.

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Lane Johnson feels guilty for letting Eagles down with suspension

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 13: Tackle Lane Johnson #65 of the Philadelphia Eagles watches play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers October 13, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Eagles won 31 - 20. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Lane Johnson’s 10-game PED suspension began, they had just lost their first game to fall to 3-1. Since he’s been gone, they’re 2-6, and he feels responsible for his part in it.

The Eagles right tackle has two more weeks before he can be reinstated, and he said he’s ready to come back for the final two games.

Via Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Johnson said he felt he deserved blame for the team’s slide, since his second suspension cost him and them more than half of a season.

I’ve let this whole organization down not once, but twice,” Johnson said. “And I’ve had a long time to ponder on it and look myself in the mirror.”

Johnson returned home to Oklahoma during the suspension, but said he’s planning to return to Philadelphia next week. He can’t go back to the team facility until Dec. 19, in advance of their short-week game against the Giants.

In his absence, the Eagles started rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and then had to move left guard Allen Barbre there after Vaitai was injured.

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Giants say racism is real, after swastika, KKK and Trump written on walls

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 12: Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants looks on from the sidelines during the second half against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 12, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Dolphins defeated the Giants 27-10. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

The news that injured/suspended Giants fullback home was broken into rattled him and some of his teammates to the core.

And not just because of the lack of security they might have in their homes, but because of the messages left behind.

Via Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News, there’s also a larger concern because in addition to a swastika, the letters KKK, “Go back to Africa” and other racial slurs, the burglars also scrawled “Trump” on one of the walls of his suburban New Jersey home.

Whitlock said he still thinks his Moonachie neighborhood is mostly good, though there are still some signs that it’s not as welcoming as it appeared. He recalled meeting an older female neighbor who said it was “great” when she found out he played for the Giants because: “I told everyone we didn’t have to worry about drive-bys with you.”

“I didn’t bring it to her attention, because she’s elderly and she’s trying to be nice and she’s good-hearted,” Whitlock said. “The thing about racism is it doesn’t take a whole bunch of racists to spoil a community. I don’t believe by any means that the [Moonachie] community is racist, maliciously racist. I just think there’s some bad people here.”

But Giants teammate Victor Cruz thinks it’s a sign of a growing trend, and he doesn’t think it’s an accident the name of the President-Elect was among the graffiti.

I think it’s definitely a direct reflection of how this country’s being run and how this country’s reacting maybe to some of the decisions, some of the ways that this country’s being run and things that are being said by people at the helm of this country and at the helm of our day-to-day lives — our day-to-day, from social media all the way up to the White House,” Cruz said. “These are things that are being spoken of and talked about on a daily basis, the good and the bad, more so the bad at this point right now because that’s all we have to work with. It’s just an unfortunate situation we’re going through right now.”

Cruz said he thinks the mindset of the people who would write such things on Whitlock’s walls is connected to the recent election results.

“Absolutely,” Cruz said. “I think there’s a specific mindset that comes with supporting a guy like Donald Trump and supporting what he stands for, and there’s a certain type of person that comes with that, and I’m not sure that person is always a positive-minded person. You know what I mean? You just have to be careful.

“As a minority you have to be careful. As a person of influence you have to be careful, and you’ve just got to make sure your family’s safe and give them the knowledge to stay safe in this world.”

While the larger questions remain, it’s going to be harder to Whitlock and those near him to accept that they’re safe, just because they’re insulated by the money and fame that comes with being professional football players.

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Travis Kelce: Marquette King told me I don’t have any rhythm

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates a catch during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) AP

Tyreek Hill’s punt return touchdown was one of the biggest plays of Thursday night’s Chiefs victory and it was one that Hill’s teammate Travis Kelce celebrated in a pretty specific manner.

The Chiefs tight end did his rendition of the dance that Raiders punter Marquette King breaks out after pinning the opposition deep with a kick in front of the originator himself. King appeared to say something to Kelce as he walked past and Kelce shared what King said with NFL Network after the game.

“He told me I didn’t have any rhythm,” Kelce said. “I told him, ‘Trust me, wait until I get in the end zone again and I’ll show you some rhythm.”

King had a different take on his message for Kelce. He referenced Kelce’s foray into reality television, writing that “I told him I don’t need a reality show to find a girl lol…”

There would be no trip to the end zone for Kelce on Thursday night, but his five catches for 101 yards were a big help to the Kansas City cause.

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Steelers players want to help pay Ramon Foster’s fine

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 6:  Markus Wheaton #11 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates a second quarter touchdown with teammate Ramon Foster #73 during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field on December 6, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers guard Ramon Foster wasn’t penalized for pulling Giants linebacker Kelvin Sheppard off of running back Le’Veon Bell in last Sunday’s victory, but he did hear from the league this week.

Members of the team told Jeremy Fowler of that Foster has been fined $9,115 for his actions, which came after Sheppard appeared to grab and twist Bell’s facemask at the end of a play. Those teammates told Fowler that they’d like to chip in to help Foster pay the league and Bell said that he appreciates what the team’s linemen are willing to do for him.

“I’m glad I got my guys,” Bell said. “I call them my goons up front. They are down to ride with me whenever.”

It’s not clear if Bell will have Foster helping him against the Bills this weekend. Foster missed practice on Wednesday for what the team said were reasons not related to injury and was out Thursday with a chest injury given as the reason.

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Osemele’s illness struck Thursday morning

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 16:  Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders reacts after turning over the ball to the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter on October 16, 2016 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Chiefs won 26-10.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

In a game that didn’t feature all that many surprises, perhaps the biggest came 90 minutes before kickoff.

Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele, the man viewed by many as the catalyst for the resurgence of the team, appeared on the inactive list, with an illness. After the game, coach Jack Del Rio explained that Osemele was treated at a local hospital on Thursday morning.

By all appearances, no one was treated to the information that Osemele was ill. As learned a year ago when Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen was a surprise scratch prior to a game against the Chiefs (coincidentally), the NFL requires any team who has a player with an injury or illness that could impact his ability to play after the filing of the final injury report to announce the injury or illness to the local media (including the Associated Press) and the network televising the game. The information also must be given to the other team’s P.R. director and the NFL.

The Raiders, as best PFT can tell, didn’t disclose that information to all required parties. The league likely will say it’s looking into the situation, and then we’ll likely never hear anything more about it — in large because the league in most cases (most, not all . . . #DeflateGate) doesn’t like to make it known to the world at large that there may be shenanigans when it comes to inside information that could be valuable to those who would use inside information in order to gain financial value via the primary industry of the Raiders’ potential new home.

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Hue Jackson: I want to know more about RG3

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Cleveland Browns warms up as head coach Hue Jackson looks on prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns will give quarterback Robert Griffin III his second start of the season against the Bengals this Sunday, a point they would have liked to reach in the second week of the regular season.

A broken bone in Griffin’s left shoulder got in the way of that plan and left Griffin on injured reserve for the last 11 games. The Browns have lost all 11 of those games in addition to the one Griffin started in Week One, leaving them at the top of the draft with their pick and not too far behind with the one the Eagles traded them to move up for Carson Wentz this year.

Many suspect the Browns would like to land a player who can be their franchise quarterback with those selections, although coach Hue Jackson said on Thursday that he still believes Griffin, who is signed for 2017, has a chance be that player.

“The fact that we’re putting him out there says that,” Jackson said, via “I want to know more. I’ve only seen him really play for not even a full game. The more information, the more time I get an opportunity to evaluate him, the better it’s going to be. I will say it again, I am not expecting for everything to go perfect. It’s not. I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on anybody. It’s his second game in a little over maybe two years so hopefully it’ll go right, but if it doesn’t that’s OK, too. We have to go get him to play and hopefully play well, but we all understand the situation that he’s in. I think he is up to the challenge.”

It seems unlikely that the Browns would put all their eggs in the Griffin basket based on what would be five games if he starts the rest of the the year, but there’s no reason for them not to explore every option available to them at this point in time.

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Raiders think they’ll get a third chance to beat the Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 8: Defensive end Khalil Mack #52 of the Oakland Raiders reaches out to strip the ball from quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game on December 8, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs swept the season series with the Raiders and took over first place in the AFC West with their win over the Raiders on Thursday night. But Oakland coach Jack Del Rio doesn’t think the two teams are done meeting.

“I feel pretty confident that both of our teams will end up in the playoffs,” Del Rio said. “There’s still three games to be played. How it ends up, we’ll see. Certainly they’ve got a leg up right now, they did enough to win the two games we’ve had with them this year, and for now that’s all there is to the story. They’ve earned that.”

Del Rio thinks the Raiders and Chiefs will meet a third time in January, and he’s still hoping to win one more game than the Chiefs over the final three weeks of the season, which would ensure a third meeting would take place in Oakland.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this team again. What we do and what they do the next three weeks will determine whether it’s at their place or ours, because they’re a half game up on us,” Del Rio said.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr echoed those comments.

“There’s obviously a chance to play again which would be awesome, but they’ve beaten us twice. They’ve had us,” Carr said.

Heading into last night’s game, the Raiders owned the inside track for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Now the Raiders would be a wild card team, playing the playoffs on the road. Having to travel to Kansas City again next month, and beating a team that has already beaten them twice, would be a tall order.

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