The Chiefs Blew It
An early chance in the end zone, a 14-point lead, a final attempt to send it into overtime. There could be joy in Kansas City had these opportunities, among others, not been squandered. The Chiefs failed to finish what they started in several occasions. A rare interception from Alex Smith, let alone in the end zone, prevented a points early in the game, but it’s not that big a deal considering that the Chiefs stopped the Broncos and eventually scored the next time they had the ball — sin forgiven. A 14-point lead that becomes a 14-point deficit is unforgivable, even if it came at the hands of Peyton Manning. You’re going to tell me that the Chiefs defense couldn’t stop one of the three consecutive touchdown drives in the 3rd quarter, that the offense punted on five ensuing possessions? That’s crazy talk. That sounds like the Kansas City of 2012.
To end the game, the Chiefs revived hope, only to come up short once again. A good team can overcome struggles early in a game, a great team can overcome those struggles to win. The Chiefs aren’t a great team, yet. They still lack a few pieces on both sides of the ball, and they need to get accustomed to playing at the same level as the upper echelon of the NFL. In time, these types of games (mistake-filled, missed chances) will hopefully become less and less apparent. However, they’re still going through this stage as showcased Sunday. The game, the AFC West, and the 1st seed was there for the taking. A great team would have found a way.
Let’s Look at the Defensive Failings.. With a Caveat
The Kansas City Defense has fallen to 21st place in passing yards allowed (2988), rushing yards allowed (1407), and yards per play (5.6). They definitely are not playing at the level they were during the first half of the season. However, I will acknowledge that injuries and the greatest quarterback ever have affected the defense in the last three games.
I know this is a Kansas City Chiefs blog, but I just want to point out the greatness of Peyton Manning. Here he is at 37 years old breaking his own franchise records for touchdowns in a season (41 so far), and reaching 4,000 passing yards in a season faster than any other QB ever. He’s the type of player you will tell your kids about, a first ballot Hall of Famer, and a guy you can’t wait to be retired (at least if your a Chiefs, Chargers, or Raiders fan). It’s annoying and unfortunate that we have to play him twice a year.
So when Manning finds himself behind in a game and being picked off by Marcus Cooper, he decides that he will use Cooper as an example, a sacrifice to show the other AFC cornerbacks what happens when you try to compete with the greatest. Cooper spent the rest of the game on spin cycle. Repeatedly he was beaten deep or out-maneuvered by Peyton’s next target. It wasn’t pretty.
I’m not sure if the defense will play return to their early season form because opposing offensive coordinators now have film of what they are doing. The early opponents of 2013 didn’t have that benefit, but the remaining opponents can use that to their advantage. Who is Kansas City without their defense this year? I’m not entirely sure. Hopefully the offense fills in the holes, but having the defense back would be nice.
The Expected Wild Card Round
With the second loss to Denver, the Chiefs now have to settle for second place in the AFC West. The Broncos’ remaining schedule is fairly easy: verses the Titans and the Chargers followed by games at the Texans and the Raiders. Therefore we can deduce that Kansas City will be a Wild Card team entering the playoffs, most likely the 5th seed, which means we’ll play the 4th seeded team. As things stand, that 4th seed will either be the Cincinnati Bengals or the Indianapolis Colts. According to the ESPN NFL Playoff Machine (one of the most time-consuming things on the internet) the 3rd and 4th seeds will be heavily impacted by this coming Sunday’s game when the Colts visit the Bengals. Either matchup for the Chiefs will be difficult, especially since both potential teams play well at home. I have to say I’m rooting for the Bengals to win on Sunday, they seem more complete than the Indianapolis team and nearly unstoppable at home. The Chiefs and Colts play each other at Arrowhead in Week 16.