When the New England Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 9-0 on Sunday the Chiefs lost control of their playoff destiny. Kansas City slipped to the second spot for home field advantage even though the Patriots and Chiefs share an 11-2 mark.
However, the Chiefs precarious perch at number two is not safe. The Indianapolis Colts defeated the suddenly reeling Tennessee Titans 29-27 and they sit one game behind the Chiefs.
The good news for Kansas City is that since the Patriots defeated the Dolphins; Kansas City clinched a playoff spot and they can win the AFC West outright with a win Sunday at home against the Detroit Lions.
But after giving up 509 yards of total offense to the Broncos, Kansas City suddenly has doubts and Denver gave a blueprint in how to whip the Chiefs. It's very apparent that Greg Robinson's defense will not play aggressive. His corners play off receivers anywhere from five to ten yards. Their linebackers are more inclined to take on blockers instead of covering their lanes and following the path of the runner.
A team that wants to go to the Super Bowl does not give up five rushing touchdowns to the same running back. A team that wants to go to the Super Bowl makes adjustments and does not get fooled on every play by a quarterback like Jake Plummer.
I have no problem that the Chiefs lost but a blowout against Denver in that matter is unacceptable. It's unacceptable because the lack of talent, energy and execution on defense is mind-boggling. Defensive coordinator has lost touch with his defense. In fact, he's lost confidence in them.
He never blitzed his corners, safeties or linebackers. He made no adjustments in the play action, boot leg antics of Plummer and the run defense couldn't tackle Portis to save their lives. With the offense humming in the first half, the defense laid an egg in the second half when they were needed.
Chiefs fans will have to come to grips that this season of dreams is in serious jeopardy with a defense that has no real playmakers. Eric Warfield has regressed back to his old lackluster form; Kawika Mitchell can't handle playing middle linebacker, Eric Hicks and Vonnie Holliday can't get to the quarterback and Ryan Sims has disappeared on the defense.
However, the defense can't take all the blame. The offense was brilliant in the first half but fizzled in the second half because they rested on their laurels. The play calling in the second half was horrendous and predictable. Trent Green after spreading the ball around to six different receivers in the first half was fixated on Dante Hall in the second half and Priest Holmes was a blimp on the radar screen in the second half.
Holmes only touched the ball 19 times; twelve on the ground for 44 yards and seven times via the pass for 33 yards. I don't know why the Chiefs are not giving the ball to Holmes more often. When the Chiefs faced a critical third and one in the third quarter, they ran a bootleg pass that resulted with a sack and Holmes was instead blocking. Give him the darn ball. If you're best offensive weapon can't gain a yard then lose the game on the shoulders of your best player.
Maybe Holmes is not 100%. Maybe the coaches have lost faith in him as he has not really made any long runs nor displayed the break away speed he had before the hip injury.
But Holmes is clearly the Chiefs best offensive weapon and he should have stepped up in the second half and put on his Superman costume. Instead, that went to Clinton Portis who is a better running back than Holmes and has the ability to carry his team. Without the play of Portis, the Broncos don't win the game.
The Chiefs can make all the excuses in the world but they flat out were embarrassed and they were rudely exposed today as pretenders. Now that doesn't mean they can't win the rest of their games nor make a strong run in the playoffs. But they'll need to change the way they play football over the next three weeks.
This team has no killer instincts at all. They seem to be going through the motions and worried about not making a mistake especially on defense. On offense they should not be stopped and they stopped themselves in the second half. The Broncos gave up nearly 400 yards passing to the Chiefs so there is no excuse in not scoring more points.
Vermeil and his staff need to make some very difficult choices in the next 24 hours. Some personnel moves might have to be made and some philosophies might need to be changed. But the most important job for the Chiefs will be to kick the rear ends of the players who appeared to give very little effort on Sunday.
The Chiefs have gone 2-2 the last four weeks and now they face three NFC North teams to finish out the regular season. Kansas City faces the Detroit Lions at home, then the Minnesota Vikings on the road before ending the season with the Chicago Bears at home.
All three games are winnable though the Chiefs are not likely to be favored in the game in Minnesota. The Vikings appear to have regrouped and their defense is playing better. With the Chiefs lack of pass rush, Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper could torch the Kansas City secondary for multiple touchdowns. Kansas City should have little problem with the Lions and Bears so that game could decide if the Chiefs will play two or three playoff games.
The Denver Post writer who called the Chiefs a ‘fraud' might have been correct. If that's true, some people inside the Kansas City locker room need to step and realize that this team can't lose any more games in December, January or February if they want to be champions.
Teams that have Super Bowl aspirations won't succeed in the playoffs by playing badly in the month of December. The Broncos made sure the Chiefs no longer control their own destiny in regards to home field advantage.
The Chiefs will now have to root for two upsets in Week #16. The Broncos visit the Colts and the Jets host the Patriots. The day before the Chiefs will have played the Vikings in a Saturday showdown.
For Chiefs fans, they hope those games count for something besides eliminating the Chiefs from home field advantage and forcing them to play three games instead of two playoff games.
Sunday's loss was a money game for the Chiefs and they didn't cash in. Now we'll find out what this team is made of. If they step up and win the next three games, then they can gain a positive edge for the playoffs. If not, the Broncos loss could spoil a remarkable season.