The Kansas City Chiefs have been one of the best stories of the NFL season. After finishing with the worst record in the league last year, they stormed out to a 9-0 record before losing their last three games. Those wins came on the backs of the defense, a unit that dominated teams early in the season.
Now, that defense has been rocked by injuries and just doesn’t have what it would take to carry the Chiefs all the way to the Super Bowl.
Those nine wins to start the season all came before Kansas City faced their division rival and NFL-leading Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning and the Broncos beat them two weeks ago, and with a depleted pass rush this week, the defense was never able to even slow down the Denver offense.
After the offense and special teams got them out to a two-touchdown lead, the Kansas City defense gave up 28 straight points to put the game out of their reach by the fourth quarter. The Chiefs made a valiant effort to get back in the game, but it was too little, too late.
Led by the steady play of the beleaguered Alex Smith, the offense lacks the kind of playmakers they would need to win a shootout with the likes of Manning and the Broncos. The offense will get better after Andy Reid has another offseason to build the team around his west coast offense, but they will need to rely on their defense to keep games close for the rest of this season.
No matter what happens in the last month of the year and in the playoffs, it’s been a successful season in Kansas City. When you can go from the having No. 1 overall pick in the draft one year to even being in the championship conversation the next, you know you’re on the right track. But, it was the defense that got them as far as they have gone this season, and it’s one that no longer has the dominant pass rushers to beat the top-tier teams in the postseason.