Only in this topsy-turvy of an NFL season could a team lose five games in a row and be smack-dab in the middle of the playoff race.
Just look at what transpired on Sunday. Hapless Detroit goes into Green Bay and stuns the Packers for the first time in 24 years. Denver, which has had the Kansas City Chiefs’ number, curled up into a ball and quarterback Peyton Manning was on the bench before the third quarter was over. Seattle, which almost never loses at home, was outgunned by Arizona in what was supposed to be a battle of great defenses but instead produced 71 points, while New England needed a miracle to remain undefeated against perennial thorn-in-the-side New York, the Giants version.
Just plain goofy.
The Chiefs’ thorough dismantling of the Broncos may have been the topper, at least it was the most important in these parts. Manning looked older than Methuselah and Denver fans actually were cheering when he exited before the end of the third quarter — those same fans who had cheered him wildly earlier in the game when he broke Brett Favre’s all-time passing yardage record.
The Chiefs, whose obituary appeared after Week 6 as they were 1-5 at that point, are suddenly one of the hottest teams going. I believe their season is going to be determined by Sunday’s game at San Diego and hopefully they won’t follow up a pristine performance with a clunker since the Chargers are in the hunt for the No. 1 draft pick as they are one of five teams with only two wins.
Kansas City is now a game back in the loss column of the two wild-card spots, which at this point are shared by Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets. KC wins the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh and can do likewise if it defeats Buffalo if you’re looking ahead.
The Jets still have to play at their crosstown rival the Giants, and have road games at Dallas and Buffalo, not to mention a home game with New England.
The Chiefs have perhaps the easiest schedule in the NFL the rest of the way. Of their final seven games, six are against teams with losing records. They still have two games left with Oakland and play four of their final six at home (Buffalo, San Diego, Cleveland and Oakland).
There are a couple of reasons for their turnaround. The Chiefs’ defense appears to have figured things out and isn’t getting gashed on the ground. Secondly, the offensive line is showing marked improvement, even if touchdowns are hard to come by as they seem to get flustered when they get near the goal line and settle for Cairo Santos field goals.
However, they aren’t turning the ball over and say what you will about the often-maligned Alex Smith, he’s not losing games while doing just enough to win them. The Chiefs had only 303 yards on Sunday, but still put 29 points on the board thanks to the field position presented by the defense.
Kansas City dug itself an almost-impossible hole the first six weeks. But if things fall right, that start will be only a distant memory.