On paper, the Kansas City Chiefs appear to be well ahead of the Las Vegas Raiders. They are 5-1 in head-to-head showdowns with their AFC West rivals since Patrick Mahomes took over under center and are coming off two straight trips to the Super Bowl.
While they came up short in Sunday's matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they capped off their 2019 campaign with a Lombardi Trophy by beating the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, the Raiders have made the playoffs only once since the 2002 campaign.
"I really don't think there's much because the first game we won, the second game they score at the end and if you ask people on defense, they say we can't happen but those are two games that we feel like we should have won. We don't feel like the gap is that big, honestly. It's easy to show up and play them because they are so good and so talented that you naturally want to play your best. We feel like our best is right there with theirs."
To Waller's point, the Raiders were the only team to beat the Chiefs during the 2020 regular season when Mahomes was under center. They nearly completed a season sweep of the AFC champions in Week 11, but Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for the game-winning touchdown with 28 seconds remaining.
Waller and the Raiders know they can at least hang with Kansas City in head-to-head matchups. Their next trick is establishing the consistency to compete with Mahomes and Co. in the standings throughout the season.