The final score may not have indicated it, but the Kansas City Chiefs were taken to the woodshed Sunday night by the Denver Broncos before the disbelieving Arrowhead Stadium faithful and millions at home who probably were wondering if the clock had been turned back to 2012, the infamous 2-14 season that garnered KC the overall No. 1 pick in the draft.
First off, give Denver a lot of credit as the Broncos came out and punched the Chiefs squarely in the mouth. This one-sided fight could have been stopped after the first quarter — because Kansas City didn’t put up one.
How the final margin was only 13 is unfathomable. The Broncos lived in the Kansas City red zone, yet produced only two actual touchdowns and a handful of Connor Barth field goals. This could have been — and should have been — much, much worse.
The 7-5 Chiefs put together a nice 7-1 run after their 0-2 start, but their obvious flaws are being exposed and they’re limping to the finish line. It’s a testament to Andy Reid that they’ve hung around this long, given the fact the defense is down three of its best players, the offensive line is cobbled together with castoffs and rejects, and the wide receiving group certainly is among the worst in the NFL — the wide receivers have yet to catch a TD pass all season, it’s been all tight ends and backs.
I really thought, though, with 10 days off and the motivation provided by the loss of spiritual leader Eric Berry that Kansas City would come out frenzied and flying to the football. But the Broncos whipsawed the passive Chiefs for two touchdowns on the first two possessions and before the half was over added a pair of field goals.
Kansas City had one flicker when it forced a fumble early in the second half, but the offense went dormant and it came away with only a field goal. Had the Chiefs scored a touchdown to make it 20-14, this might have been a different game.
But the offensive line was so bad that quarterback Alex Smith was under siege and the huge early deficit took away the Chiefs’ bread and butter, the ground game. Jamaal Charles’ name was hardly called and they finished the night with an ego-bruising 151 total yards — which included -6 in the first quarter.
The Chiefs are not out of the AFC playoff picture, but they’re trending that way. They have four games left, three of them against contenders. The only sure win figures to be at home against Oakland, which returned to form Sunday with a 52-0 humiliation administered by the St. Louis Rams. They will be underdogs at Arizona and Pittsburgh and probably even-money with San Diego, only because it’s the last game of the year at Arrowhead and the Chargers normally aren’t built for the cold weather, though they went into Baltimore Sunday and pulled off a miracle comeback.
The Chiefs already have exceeded my prediction for wins, but right now I think they’re looking at a .500 finish.