Posted November 24, 2013

More questions than answers for Kansas City after second straight loss

AFC West, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers
The Chiefs could be without Tamba Hali (right) for their Week 13 matchup with the Broncos.

The Chiefs could be without Tamba Hali (right) for their Week 13 matchup with the Broncos. (Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

There is always a rush to label teams in the NFL. Are they contenders? Are they elite? Or, as many have wondered about the once 9-0 Chiefs, are they frauds?

The truth is that we really don’t know much of anything about this Kansas City team anymore, with that unbeaten start giving way to back-to-back losses, one in Denver and one at home on Sunday vs. San Diego.

The former was understandable, the latter utterly confusing. The Chiefs built that nine-game win streak on the strength of the NFL’s top-ranked defense, even mostly keeping Peyton Manning and the Broncos in check last week. But Sunday, with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali suffering injuries in the first half, the Chiefs went on to cough up 495 yards, 41 points and a late game-winning touchdown drive by Phillip Rivers in a 41-38 loss.

Making this latest loss more baffling: A Kansas City offense that was believed to be its team’s Achilles heel hung 38 points on the board, with Alex Smith firing an absolute dart to Dwayne Bowe for what looked like it might be the game-winning TD with 1:28 left.

So, the Chiefs offense might be far better than some folks thought. And the defense, particularly in its slightly battered state, does appear to have some cracks.

Add those facts together, and the result is a 9-2 Chiefs team that’s still as much of an enigma as any in football.

Perhaps the most pressing question of all out of Sunday’s game will be directed at Andy Reid: Why did he stop the clock before a 1st-and-goal at the San Diego 5 with 1:28 left, just prior to Smith’s TD pass to Bowe? Reid later explained that he stopped the clock in an attempt to calm his team down, but that decision saved San Diego a timeout of its own — one that the Chargers later used with 31 seconds left to set up Rivers’ dramatic touchdown pass to Seyi Ajirotutu.

The Chiefs might be able to lose out and still make the playoffs, with the AFC wild-card chase a complete mess. They had their sights set on bigger goals in the regular season, like an AFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. 

Those outcomes are still possible and the perception of Kansas City could swing all the way back the other direction next week should Reid’s team earn revenge on the Broncos. Of course, that’s why the rush to judgement is so silly in the first place, particularly since the NFL decides it champ on the field come January and February.

What we do know is this: The defensive performance Kansas City turned in Sunday against San Diego is nowhere near good enough to beat Denver in Week 13 or to make any extended playoff run.

There are reasons to believe this Chiefs team could be a Super Bowl contender, just as there are now a growing number of examples for why they’ll fall flat.

We may as well save the labels for the end of the season, though, because the Chiefs have slipped into a bit of a schizophrenic slump. Whether they’re better or worse than first anticipated is irrelevant. All that matters right now is that they are a struggling team needing to rediscover its first-half mojo.

25 comments
Smoothkaos
Smoothkaos

Amazing how many people hate the Chiefs because they had some success this year after all the misery the past few years.  The Chargers scored 3 more points with a game ending drive to beat them but it could have gone either way.  Denver beat them by 10 in Denver.  It's crazy how so many people can be hypocritical by blasting the Chiefs for the easy early schedule and then saying because the schedule is much harder, for ANY team to play, that they were frauds.  For the record for those that use that excuse let me educate you.  NFL teams don't create their own schedules like college teams do.  Also, no team plays well against a backup qb because there isn't any tape to prepare for.  Denver blows a 24 point lead in the 3rd quarter but nobody talks smack on them because they're on Manning's jock.  Freaking annoying a$$ armchair quarterback fair weather fanboys need to educate yourselves instead of regurgitating things you hear at the break room water cooler.

commchf
commchf

The Chargers have had all 4 starting linebackers out, and two of their three DL's out. But we don't blame injuries.

ChrisSanchez
ChrisSanchez

KC fans seem to live in a box when people talk about the defense.  KC is not a great defensive team.  They were struggling to win games and contain QBs that were 2nd and 3rd sting on their respective teams.  Yes they were winning games but they were not convincing and thus lead to more and more people question the validity of the Chiefs.  Losing to Denver in Denver is not shocking.  Yes they slowed Denver down but the game was never in doubt after the first quarter.  Losing to San Diego at home and giving up 41 points is a whole different level of concern.  The question needs to be asked is have the Chiefs already peaked?  With the injuries to KC's star defenders, the one chances of winning next week against Denver take a nose dive.  Without pressuring Manning, the Broncos will eat them alive (aka Rivers did today).  The good news is that the offense finally seems to have awoken and should challenge Denver a lot more than they did in Denver last week.

Lizard_King
Lizard_King

To use Burke's words, after losing their top two pass rushers in the first half,  it's 'baffling' that the Chiefs gave up so many yards and points.  What's baffling to me is the writer's inanity in maintaining that the injuries weren't relevant to the Chief's performance. Of course they were.  Burke would have been better off not mentioning the injuries as opposed to writing this logically flawed mess of an article.

Shawn18
Shawn18

look at all the backup QB's the Chiefs beat

Buffao - Tuel

Ten - Fitzpatrick

Hou - Case Kuemen

Cle - Jason Campbell

Jax - Gabbert


They got beat by 2 good Qb's  Manning and Rivers

Charles!
Charles!

The Chiefs are a good team. Their defense looked worse than it really is as a result of losing their top to pass rushers, and their offense looked better than it really is because it was playing one of the worst defenses in the NLF (SD's secondary is a joke).

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

I disagree with Burke and the rest of the yappers on here.  The Chiefs lose a close game to the Broncos and then another close game to the Chargers and all of a sudden they stink?  Get real people.  Last week it was that they could never put up big points to keep up with teams like the Broncos and then they put up 38 in a close loss this week.  They will be a tough out in the playoffs.  They are no worse than the Patriots or anything else the AFC worships these days.  

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

so the mighty over rated chiefs lost 2 in a row....soon to be three?  

JubJub
JubJub

Is this really a serious question?  Is there anyone who understood anything about football who DIDN'T think the Chiefs were a paper tiger?

Sure, they're having a nice season, but they fattened up their record against weak teams and third-string quarterbacks.  Alex Dilfer is the textbook definition of a mediocre QB, their receiving corps is pedestrian, and their defense doesn't look nearly as stout against quality QB's.  

This team is not a threat in the playoffs.  They'll be a wild card that'll get bounced in the first round.

Bigwhazoo
Bigwhazoo

Two good QB's = two losses....

George
George

Super-chokers choke da' chefs!   Have they been pretenders all along?

Next week in KC vs da' donks will tell the tale!


George
George

@commchf Yeah, but the chefs have Alex Dilfer behind center.

:D


ChrisSanchez
ChrisSanchez

20th against the run and 9th against the pass, they are (were?) good at scoring defense but without a pass rush that number will go up quickly.

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@Lizard_King They weren't relevant. Both injured players accounted for 1 sack the last 4 weeks, and were a non factor against the Chargers before their injuries. Teams have figured out the one trick pony that is KC. You can only squeak by poor teams for so long before somebody starts questioning how good you are. I've been saying this since day one - the Chiefs are an average team. NEXT!

bobcamp1
bobcamp1

@Shawn18 It's a good thing they're not playing against any more good quarterbacks, like Manning again and Rivers again, or even somebody like RGIII or Andrew Luck.  Otherwise they'd be in trouble.  Oh wait....

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@JimSmith4 The Chief were losing by 17 to the Broncos with 5 minutes left. It was not close. The score is misleading - this game was never in danger of being lost by Denver. Sorry...

doghockey
doghockey

@WHO*IS*ESPN Overrated?  Do you think that they have been ranked too high in the Coaches Poll?

scoutxx
scoutxx

@JubJub The Chiefs are exactly who we thought they were. Period.

Kudos for pulling out of a 2-14 nose dive, but the sheer arrogance and idiocy of their fan base killed any feelings of goodwill I had toward their team. I'm thrilled to see their season follow the path I, and everyone else with a brain, saw coming all along. 

Chiefs finish the season 11-5 at best. 

JubJub
JubJub

@George The tale has already been told.  My Broncos slapped them around last week, and they'll do the same next week.  

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@Joebuckster


If you couldn't tell by the games in GB and NE this week, the game is always in danger of being lost in the NFL of late.

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@JubJub

What happened to your 24-0 leading Broncos last night?  Manning looked like he aged in that game; he looked old and weak.  You could tell that he wasn't dealing with the wind as well as Brady.  Manning's arm strength is just not what it used to be.  Regardless, the Broncos choked big time.  When was the last time you saw a Peyton Manning led team lose after being ahead 24-0?

badcyclist1
badcyclist1

@JubJub @George Unless they don't, in which case you won't refer to them as your Broncos until they win again.

Gpchiefs
Gpchiefs

Gooooooooo! Chiefs!!!!!!!!!!!