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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, #7, runs with the ball and is tackled from behind by Oakland Raiders Mike Mitchell, #34, in the second quarter of their game on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010, at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

The Raiders claim ownership of the AFC West after winning their first five divisional games this season, but the Kansas City Chiefs own the bragging rights as division champions.

Whereas both teams have every right to feel good about their impressive turnarounds from last season, it's the Chiefs who are headed to the playoffs.

"I don't think anything's happened yet, other than we've been able to have some success, and with that success we've won enough games to win the division, which is one of our goals each year," Chiefs coach Todd Haley said this week on a conference call.

The Chiefs' 10 wins match their total from the previous three seasons. The Raiders won 14 games during that span.

The Raiders are 7-8 entering Sunday's regular-season finale against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. It's a marked improvement from the previous seven seasons -- during which time they never surpassed five victories -- but not enough to end a seven-year playoff drought.

Their resurgence has been overshadowed by the Chiefs, who went 2-14 in 2008 and 4-12 last season, Haley's first in Kansas City.

Haley has drawn from a blueprint used by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s, when his father was the Steelers personnel director, the formula employed by Bill Parcells with the New York Jets in the 1990s and the approach favored by the Arizona Cardinals in 2007-08, with Haley as their offensive coordinator.


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"I've been places where, if you do a good job of coaching and the players do a good job of listening and executing, you have a chance to have some success," Haley said. "So, I don't think I ever discounted the opportunity to go out and win a bunch of games" this season.

Haley is accustomed to rapid turnarounds. People told him when he joined the Cardinals that he was "crazy" for going to a team that enjoyed little success for decades.

Two years later, the Cardinals played the Steelers in the Super Bowl. That catapulted Haley on to his next challenge, a Chiefs team in complete disarray.

He gutted the roster, traded for quarterback Matt Cassel and added proven veterans such as linebacker Mike Vrabel and running back Thomas Jones. Only 18 players on the Chiefs' 53-man roster predate Haley's brief tenure.

He also surrounded himself with general manager Scott Pioli, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and several others who played key roles in the New England Patriots' decade of success.

Haley scoffs at those who say he has modeled the Chiefs after the Patriots. Many of those same people were with Haley when they worked under Parcells, whose Jets teams Haley calls the model for today's Chiefs.

The makeover has manifested itself in a team that Raiders coach Tom Cable said plays smart football, avoids costly mistakes and applies consistent pressure on the opponent.

"They have been very consistent all year long by not turning it over and really getting their offense a couple of extra chances every game," Cable said. "That, more than anything, sets them apart. Their ability to not give up big plays defensively and create a lot of big plays on offense."

Cassel, whose previous team was the Patriots, said "there's no secret recipe" to either team's success.

"It just starts with consistency," Cassel said "By consistency, I mean a consistent approach by the team. Our defense, our offense, our special teams are all on the same page. We're playing together."

Notes: Left guard Robert Gallery received the Ed Block Courage Award in a vote by his teammates. The award goes to the player who exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Gallery missed a large part of the 2009 season with a broken leg and a back injury. He returned at full strength this season and has started 11 games. "... Running back Darren McFadden (turf toe) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (hamstring) missed practice once again and are questionable for Sunday's game. McFadden confirmed that he has a turf-toe injury and not an ankle problem, as he said after the Colts game last Sunday. McFadden suffered from turf-toe injuries on both feet two seasons ago as a rookie but said this isn't anywhere near as severe. "It brings back memories but, at the same time, it's something you learn to deal with," McFadden said.

sunday's game
Raiders (7-8) at Kansas City (10-5), 10 a.m. CBS