Gone are the teams featured backs Priest Holmes and Quentin Griffin due to injuries, and the playoff hopes for Denver rest on Kansas City's shoulders. Both teams had high expectations going into the season; as of late the Broncos are on the way down.
Denver nearly lost that playoff hope this past Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, but a late 50-yard field goal from Jason Elam won the game 20-17. The Chiefs meanwhile still have a bleak shot at the playoffs after winning two in a row 34-27 and 49-38.
The rage this week in Denver has been Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer who probably is relieved that he's playing on the road after throwing two interceptions. He was mercifully booed by the irate Broncos fans but they were more incensed when he gave the one finger salute to the fans. That did not sit well with the fans and Plummer quickly went into repair mode when talking to the media the next day.
"One guy got into my head a little bit, it shouldn't be that way," Plummer said. "I'm an emotional guy. I apologize. ... I would never direct that at our fans. We have the greatest fans in the league."
Other than throwing it back into the Broncos fans, Plummer also threw the ball for 219 yards and completed eight of them to wide out Rod Smith for 97 yards. While the Chiefs defense surrendered 426-yards to Titans quarterback Billy Volek.
Denver running back Tatum Bell rushed for 123 yards against the Dolphins, who rank 15 in the AFC in total rush defense. Usual back Ruben Droughns ran the ball 18 times for 62 yards but fumbled once.
Despite their 508 record the Chiefs still have a mathematical chance of making the post season if they finish 8-8. With victories over the Raiders and Titans in hand they now must defeat their three division rivals back to back to back but stranger things happen in the NFL.
Kansas City has the Broncos Sunday and on then host the Oakland Raiders on Christmas day. Then if the Chiefs hope to have a meaningful game, they'll face the Chargers in San Diego for a showdown that could hinge on the Chiefs making an improbably playoff appearance. But that means many AFC teams have to lose out their remaining games and Kansas City would have to win three straight.
But this team is not giving up and though the fans would like to see them lose games to improve their draft position, it's important that this team learns how to win football games again.
"Our record is not indicative of what kind of team we are." Tight end Tony Gonzalez said, "We came out of today (Monday) with a win. Our defense stepped up when they had to and so did our offense. We beat a pretty good Tennessee football team."
On Monday night Gonzalez moved passed NFL Hall of Fame Tight End Kellen Winslow on the All-Time receiving list. Gonzalez is now in third place with only Ozzie Newsome and the infamous Shannon Sharpe ahead of him.
"It's a great honor, I'm definitely humble with it." Gonzalez said, "He is such a great football player, and I never thought I would be able to get to this point. It's one of those things that I am satisfied with."