Chiefs Have to Rebound

Going into the season, everyone identified the back-to-back road games in Indianapolis and Houston as the toughest stretch of the Chiefs' schedule.

Losses weren't just assumed in those contests, they were practically guaranteed. The hope was simply that the Chiefs could put them aside and rebound once their schedule eased up.

Of course, after the undefeated start to the season, the road trip took on a whole new significance. For starters, we'd find out if the Chiefs were "for real" by how they showed up to compete. And if they could manage to steal a game along the way, they could be well on their way to having a stranglehold on the AFC West.

But as we know now, they were unable to win either game. Losses to the Colts and Texans have quickly turned the much heralded 3-0 start into a record of 3-2.

So should we be concerned? It's awfully tempting to say "no" and focus on the positives – the Chiefs proved their mettle in their two losses, they have a pair of winnable home games coming up, and San Diego continues to fall flat on their face.

But in truth, it's tough to forecast any upcoming games until we see how they bounce back from this painful loss in Houston.

When a team with a dominant rushing attack is leading by 10 points with seven minutes left to play, there's no question they should win the game. We could all practically taste an amazing 4-1 start to the season. Instead, a collective effort helped the Chiefs pluck defeat from the jaws of victory.

Chiefs Running Back Thomas Jones needs to continue to lead this team.
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The defense, which held Peyton Manning without a single touchdown pass a week ago, surrendered 21 points in the fourth quarter. A questionable play call on 3rd and 2 forced the Chiefs to punt when they should have been running out the clock. And after one of his best performances as a Chief, Matt Cassel stumbled when he was needed the most, missing two wide open receivers on the game's final drive.

How is the defense going to respond to being embarrassed for the first time this season? How will Cassel, who surely thought he'd done his job by leading the offense to 31 points, react to the brutal disappointment? How will the coaching staff adjust to some of their odd decisions, including on special teams?

The answers to those questions will define the next quarter of the Chiefs' season. Their next two games, at home against Jacksonville and Buffalo, will be extremely telling.

After playing four of their first six games at home, the Jaguars – who play Monday night – will be coming to Kansas City on a short week. In their only road test of the season, they played horrendously in San Diego. And Buffalo may be the single worst team in the NFL this year.

If the Chiefs are going to be serious playoff contenders –not just a team with a chance of winning a lousy division – they absolutely have to finish this stretch with a record of 5-2. But the Kansas City team we've seen the last few weeks should be capable of not just winning these games, but of punching both teams square in the mouth.

If the Chiefs can make a pair of statements against the Jags and Bills, it will bode extremely well – not only for how they've reacted to these back-to-back losses, but about their prospects for the rest of the season.

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