Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs' Struggling Defense Is Cause For Concern

The Kansas City Chiefs find themselves in unfamiliar territory after winning nine games in a row and capturing the attention of the NFL. Kansas City finds itself riding a two game losing skid.

Gone are the days of 9-0 glory and gone are the days of claiming to the best team in the NFL. As of right now, that’s a claim the Chiefs are struggling to back up.

First, the Broncos beat Kansas City in a hard-fought battle in Denver. It wasn’t a statement win per say, but the Broncos came out and executed the plays they needed to in order to win the game.

Kansas City simply couldn’t keep up and lost 17-27.

The game at Arrowhead against the Chargers was seen as the perfect bounce back, and the implications were huge considering Denver comes back to town next Sunday.

The Chiefs seemed focused and they certainly weren’t overlooking the Chargers, but once again, Kansas City couldn’t keep up.

This time though, the defense had to shoulder most of the blame.

Alex Smith played a great game and led the Chiefs’ offense to 395 yards and 38 points. He threw for three touchdowns and one interception, and came up clutch when Kansas City needed him to.

Down 31-34 late in the fourth quarter, Smith found Dwayne Bowe in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:22 left in the game. That touchdown put the Chiefs on top and set up a familiar narrative for Kansas City: Let the defense win the game.

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For nine games this season, Bob Sutton’s defense was good enough to live up to the calling.

For nine games it were able to fight, claw and out-physical its opponents on the line when it mattered most. It were able to use speed on the outside to get after the quarterback, and skill in the secondary to lock down his receivers.

Kansas City’s defense had won games for them all season long and it seemed set up to be the hero again, but when it truly mattered the most, it came up short.

Philip Rivers led the Chargers on an eight play drive that culminated in a 26-yard touchdown strike to Seyi Ajirotutu. Kansas City looked shocked, and rightfully so. With 24 seconds left in the game, the Chiefs tried pull off the miracle, but it was unfair to ask the offense to do more than it had done already.

The Chiefs lost, and now they head into next weekend’s clash with Denver on a two game losing streak.

The good news is that Denver ended up losing to the New England Patriots 34-31  in overtime on Sunday Night Football, so despite the Chiefs best efforts, both teams will still enter the Week 11 clash at 9-2.

All’s well that ends well, right? No harm, no foul?

Despite Denver’s unfortunate loss in New England, this NFL weekend didn’t end well for Kansas City.

The Chiefs are in trouble if this defense can’t find a way to regain its old form. Just weeks ago, Sutton’s defense was potentially the most feared in the league. It was a group that was getting after quarterbacks and holding opposing offenses to Pee Wee-like numbers on the scoreboard.

Now though, it can barely get after the quarterback, it’s not causing many turnovers (just one in the past two losses) and it has given up a grand total of 814 yards and 68 points in the past two weeks.

Even if the offense does start finding it’s stride, Smith and Co. are going to have a hard time keeping up with anybody if the defense can’t get back into its rhythm sooner rather than later. To be fair, the Chiefs have look great at times, but they’ve just given up way to many big plays over the past two games.

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To make matters worse, Kansas City’s best rushers, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, were both injured against the Chargers. If they don’t get healthy soon, things will go from bad to worse for the Chiefs’ defense.

(Note: Will my tone change if both Hali and Houston return as normal? Sure. That said, we’ll have to wait and find out. Of course, we’ll let you know here on AA.)

The fact of the matter is, for as good as the Chiefs’ defense has been this season, right now it’s not playing well.

It’s giving up yardage through the air and can’t find a way to get after the quarterback.

The secondary has been suspect, to say the least. The safety play from players not named Eric Berry was horrible against the Chargers, and I can’t say much better for the cornerbacks. Sean Smith was burned on the winning touchdown pass to Ajirotutu, and that’s just one example.

News flash: This is probably not going to change much against Denver next weekend, and if this unit doesn’t shape up quickly, the remaining games against Washington, Oakland, Indianapolis and San Diego could be tough as well.

At the very least we know Rivers and the Bolts aren’t afraid to put points up on the board.

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Is it time to panic? Of course not. This team is going to make the playoffs, and they’ve shown enough talent this year to inspire some confidence. If either Hali or Houston come back at 100 percent—and hopefully both do—the pass rush should amp up a bit (they were close on a few tries), and we’ve seen enough from guys like Marcus Cooper and Quintin Demps to know they can be opportunistic.

Is it time to feel a bit of concern though?

Absolutely.

Speaking of playoffs, no matter how good Smith and the offense is, the Chiefs aren’t going to be able to win playoff games when they’re giving up 491 yards of total offense.

And as of right now, the road to the Super Bowl is going to feature quarterbacks not named Rivers, but Brady, Manning or even Luck—and that’s a reason to worry if you’re a Chiefs fan.

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Tags: Alex Smith Dwayne Bowe Justin Houston Kansas City Chiefs Marcus Cooper Peyton Manning Philip Rivers Quintin Demps Tamba Hali

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