November 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; General view of the line of scrimmage between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Loss Opens The Door For A Showdown With The Chiefs On Sunday

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The Kansas City Chiefs lost a heartbreaker to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. That loss combined with the injuries to Tamba Hali and Justin Houston left most KC fans feeling like the AFC West had slipped out of reach. However, late Sunday night the New England Patriots gave the Chiefs and their fans new hope as they erased a 24-0 deficit to come back and beat the Denver Broncos in overtime. That means that both teams now stand at 9-2 going into this weekend’s rematch in Arrowhead.

As I type this, there is no definitive news on the status of Hali and Houston. If official news has been released by the time you are reading this, ignore the next paragraph.

The latest on Hali is that it may be a mid inside ankle sprain, which isn’t as troublesome as a high ankle sprain, but I think he is probably still unlikely to play this week (but that’s just me speculating). Houston is believed to have a subluxed elbow. While some reports say that it’s usually a multi-week injury, I would think if there was a way they could brace it, Houston may be the more likely to try and play, even if it was just to rush the passer on clear passing downs (again, that’s just my guess).

If neither Hali or Houston can play, it will make beating the Broncos VERY difficult. The Chargers completely had their way with the Hali/Houston-less KC defense. Phillip Rivers is good, but Peyton Manning is better and it’s hard to imagine KC shutting him down without their top pass rushers.

As the Chiefs move on from San Diego and look ahead to Denver the approach of the offense and defense must be polar opposites.

The offense needs to build off what they have done in the past two weeks. The passing game has opened up and Alex Smith has started to make plays farther down the field. While he took more shots down field in the first Denver game, the wide receivers let him down with some key drops. This week they held onto the ball and Alex Smith had his best day as a Chiefs going 26-38 (68.4%) for 294 yards (7.7 YPA) with 3 TDs and an INT.

While many fans may think Smith played significantly better against San Diego than he did against the Broncos, the style of attack was very similar. In fact, Smith is averaging almost a full yard more per completion in the last two games.

The offense was also very successful running the ball. Despite the fact that the offensive line was missing two starters (or because of it?) they did a good job of creating holes for Jamaal Charles, who like Smith, had one of his best games of the season.

The defense, on the other hand, needs to put this game behind them. They need to not dwell on this one bad game where their game plan was thrown out the window after two of their best players went down.

The bottom line is that if KC is going to bounce back from two straight losses, two people need to have great games on Sunday: Alex Smith and Bob Sutton.

Alex Smith needs to build off his good game today and carry it over until next week. If the offense can play like it did on Sunday, the Chiefs can play with the Broncos. If the Chiefs offense executes like it did in Denver AND Hali and Houston don’t play……game over.

Bob Sutton has two HUGE challenges that he simply must figure out in order for KC to win on Sunday. First, he must find a way to put some pressure on Peyton Manning and take him out of his rhythm. The Chiefs did a terrible job of this in Denver and that was with Hali and Houston healthy. Now he may have to figure out how to get more production with lesser players. If that wasn’t enough, he also must figure out how to stop the crossing routes that have become the achilles heel of their defense. The word seems to be out now that KC struggles stopping those routes and until Sutton comes up with a solution, they will continue to struggle.

KC fans, I recommend putting the Chargers game behind us. Broncos week is here again. The Broncos and Chiefs are both 9-2. They are both coming off heartbreaking losses and need to rebound in order to take control of homefield advantage in the playoffs. So let’s not dwell on the disaster that played out in Arrowhead on Sunday and look forward to another big time showdown. This time the fans of KC will have a chance to make their presence felt as Peyton Manning and company must come to the loudest stadium in the NFL.

The team that wins will erase the pain of last week’s loss from their minds. The driver’s seat for the AFC playoffs is on the line.

With or without Hali and Houston, KC must find a way to win this game.

So rest up your voices Chiefs Kingdom. The Chiefs are going to need everything you’ve got on Sunday.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!

Follow me on Twitter: @LyleGraversen

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