Nov 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82) scores a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers during the second half of the game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chargers won 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs Will Prove Who They Are Against Broncos In Week 13

Who is this team taking the field wearing the red and yellow of the Kansas City Chiefs this season?

For the first nine weeks, they made that identity pretty clear.

They were a stout defensive team built around the pass rush of linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, bolstered by strong play up front of Dontari Poe and secondary play of Eric Berry and emerging defensive back superstar, Marcus Cooper. Their defense was winning by allowing less than 13 points per game and then scoring some points of their own.

The offense wasn’t great, but it was doing just enough to win. In some games, it shined like against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants. In others, like against the Buffalo Bills, not one member of the offense found the end zone.

Everyone has had an opinion on the Chiefs this season. Guys like Pete Prisco over at CBS Sports called the Chiefs the “worst 9-0 team in history” and Denver Post columnist Mark Kizla who called them a fraud before their Week 11 meeting with the Denver Broncos. Other members of the national sports media have praised the Chiefs, like Marc Sessler at NFL.com who thought they were “for real” despite their abysmal record last season and lack luster offensive non-production this season.

However, over the last two weeks it seems the wheels have fallen off the Chiefs train to some degree. After suffering their first loss of the season against the Denver Broncos 27-17, the Chiefs turned around and lost a heart breaker in the final 84 seconds of the game, at Arrowhead against a sub-standard San Diego Chargers team.

The Chiefs defense that was so stout for the first nine games of the season gave up a total of 918 yards of offense over the past two weeks to the Broncos and Chargers. Perhaps more alarming is the fact they’ve allowed those two teams to score a total of 68 points. That’s more points in two games than the Chiefs allowed in their first five.

Many people will point to the fact that the Chiefs lost, perhaps, their best two defensive players within two series of each other on Sunday. Tamba Hali went down with a sprained ankle early in the game and shortly thereafter, Justin Houston was sidelined with a sublexed (dislocated) elbow. While the prognosis looks good for a quick (perhaps this Sunday?) return for Hali, Houston looks to miss a bit more time with his injury.

But the truth is, this team has been playing without Houston and Hali for several weeks now. After posting a monster 10 sack game against the Oakland Raiders in Week 6 and then following that up with a five-sack game in a gritty win against the Houston Texans — including a sack-strip that sealed the victory for the Chiefs — in Week 7, the quarterback crushing well dried up. The team would only record one sack against the Cleveland Browns in Week 8 and then leave the rookie undrafted free agent quarterback Jeff Tuel untouched in Week 9 when the Chiefs faced the Buffalo Bills.

The excitement built during the Chiefs bye week for the AFC West showdown that was looming against the team many had already crowned as “Mid-Season Superbowl Champs” in the Broncos. Everyone — haters and Kool Aid drinkers alike — repeated the mantra that the Chiefs defense would have to get to Peyton Manning in order for the Chiefs to have a chance. For the second week in a row, that never happened. Despite the weak-sauce pass rush, the Chiefs defense still held the high scoring Broncos to their season-low point total in 27. Unfortunately, despite some improved play by Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe, the offense took most of the game off and was only able to muster 17 points in the first loss of the Chiefs season.

Last week, exactly the opposite was the case. The offense had their best outing of the season behind solid quarterbacking play by Alex Smith and the resurgence of Jamaal Charles who, until Sunday, had forgotten where the end zone was since Week 6. Many have questioned whether or not Alex Smith would be able to “hang” in a shootout. With only 84 seconds left in the game against the Chargers, it had appeared that answer was a resounding yes. Granted, the vaunted Chiefs defense had given up 34 points when the Chiefs scored the go-ahead touchdown with only 1:24 left on the clock. Much of that could be attributed to the aforementioned injuries to the best pass rushing duo in the NFL. But nobody, from the fans in the stands to the guys who get paid to talk about it on t.v., foresaw the Phillip Rivers led Chargers marching down the field and scoring the game winning touchdown on a perfect pass to a guy who’s name I can’t pronounce and hasn’t caught a TD pass since the last time the Chiefs were the AFC West Champions. Andy Reid said it all. He trusted his defense to stop them when they came back out on the field. Yes, Hali and Houston were still in the locker room where they had been since before halftime. But they are only two pieces to an 11-man (and more when you talk about sub-packages) unit that was charged with stopping the Chargers.

So again, I ask you, who are these Kansas City Chiefs? Are they the smash mouth, in your face, eat your quarterback for lunch “Sack City Chiefs?” Are they the team that will hold the opposing offense to 13 points so that the offense can do “just enough to win?”

Or…

Are they the team that can and will win in a shootout because the defense will allow teams to score 28  or more points per game. Is Alex Smith a shootout quarterback? Are Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster shootout receivers? Can this team score quickly if need be to in order to come back from a deficit in the fourth quarter?

Truth be told, I don’t think this team is either of those things. Injuries hurt. Nobody knows that more than a Chiefs fan, as we remember the 2011 season when the team was decimated by injuries all season long. But even that year, the team was 7-9 and was a blocked field goal away from playing for a playoff spot in the Week 17 Showdown with the Denver Broncos. Teams can fight through injuries. It’s a fact of the game. Despite all the rules and safeties put in place to protect players, guys get hurt.

Nov 24, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots defeated the Denver Broncos 34-31. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

So where does that leave this team?

Heading into a critical Week 13 meeting with the Broncos, it’s time for the Chiefs to put up or shut up. There hasn’t been a more important game for the Chiefs all season. Don’t fool yourself, that Week 11 meeting between these two teams was just a warm up. With the playing field leveled by San Diego beating the Chiefs and the Sunday Night Miracle (I just made that up, by the way) in which the New England Patriots overcame a 24-0 deficit to storm back and beat the Broncos with less than two minutes left in overtime, this is the game to decide the AFC West.

Am I being over dramatic? You bet!

While something crazy could happen and either team could get a fluke loss in the last five games of the season, this is a must-win for both of these teams.

So both teams will need to show up this Sunday.

Alex Smith needs to deliver a performance akin to his showing last Sunday against the Chargers. It’s do-able. The Broncos defensive secondary is comparable to the Chargers. The team from San Diego dared Smith to air it out, and that’s what he did, with a considerable amount of success.

Jamaal Charles needs to find a way to have another 100 yard rushing day. He needs to remember where that end zone is and visit it often during the game on Sunday.

The Chiefs receiving corps, be it Bowe, Avery, McCluster or any one of the cast of characters Andy Reid and his staff like to put on the field, need to focus every bit of their energy into supporting their quarterback. Smith hasn’t quite lived up to his “high percentage completion” moniker this season, but let’s face it, he hasn’t gotten much help from the guys he’s throwing the ball to.

Most importantly, however, the defense needs to find a way to stop Manning. After all, the Chiefs aren’t the only team banged up at this late point in the season. The Broncos were without star tight end Julius Thomas this past Sunday, and as of the typing of this piece, he hasn’t been given a 100 percent “go-ahead” to play against the Chiefs. In addition, Manning, though officially off the injury report, is old and still nursing those sore ankles.

The Chiefs need to start fast and keep pushing against the Broncos. The coaches will have their hands full this week trying to game plan for what is being billed as “Chiefs vs. Broncos II The Battle for the West.” Okay, maybe nobody’s calling it that but me, but still, you know what I mean.

Above all else, the Chiefs have prove this week who they are. They likely won’t face a tougher opponent than the Broncos for the rest of the season and even in the playoffs.

Forgive the cliche, but it’s time to “put up or shut up.” John Dorsey, Andy Reid and Alex Smith have most of us believing and have all season long.

It’s time for them to prove it wasn’t all some kind of cruel joke.

See for yourself if the Chiefs can prove they are true contenders against the Broncos by grabbing Chiefs tickets from PrimeSport now!

 

Tags: Alex Smith Andy Reid Kansas City Chiefs

  • calciomoti

    Maybe the coaches can help out and figure out clock management…instead of calling time outs and leaving valuable time on the clock for the opposing team…Peyton won’t make that mistake and the Chiefs can’t afford to make it again, it already cost us a win we can’t let it happen twice.

    • Anthony

      No it was Smith that got beat that lost it for us

      • KCMikeG

        Smith and Demps. We have had poor over the top safety coverage all year by him and Lewis. When was the last time you saw either of them blow up a WR as they attempt to make a catch?

        • RepOurChiefs

          Yep and ive noticed Demps plays the pick off more than he does player.

        • Tony Parker

          it was smith who allowed the wr to run by him, what was he thinking, oh I don’t have to cover him the safety will, no, it was his man and if he had of stayed with him instead of playing catch up a bit too late than that particular receiver would not have caught that td. laziness on smiths part..imo.

          • KCMikeG

            I agree Smith has responsibility but there’s no denying that the safety has responsibility for over the top coverage.

    • KCMikeG

      I get what you are saying but if they had let 15 more seconds run off the clock then we would have gotten the ball back with 5 seconds instead of 20 seconds.

      • calciomoti

        That’s true but that means chargers last play would be with 10 secs left or do and we are playing a way different defense…meaning multiple dbs in the end zone…no way they score

      • Frank

        Maybe, that’s assuming the plays are run the same way. Perhaps Woodhead wouldn’t have risked dodging back inside when he went for more yardage. Perhaps they would have been further back and a different set of plays would have née called. Perhaps there could have been more incompletions since they had to go further. Perhaps they would have been another play and been held inbounds, running out the clock. Lots of perhaps. However, no matter how you slice it, leaving 14 more seconds on the clock than we needed to was a bad idea. Love Reid and want him as the count. Just picking apart where we could have done better. Defense needed to show up many other times during the game.

    • Bosco Cletus

      I agree to extent that ONE run at the end would have milked to cock down 30 or 40 seconds, but I still think they took the timeout just to give guys a blow, even though it was quick. That didn’t lose the game, the secondarys half ass covering and lack of pass rush got exposed.

      • calciomoti

        No joke, they have to score a TD, and the safety comes up on a crossing route and we play bump n run on the outside….the only thing we had to do was keep them out of the end zone…fail.

      • PunjabiPete

        I read “milked the cock” and can’t stop laughing. You win the internet today. Add in the “give guys a blow, even though it was quick” and this comment is so chock full of win there is no need for any kind of rebuttal.

        All jokes aside, though, I agree with you. That Sean Smith missed broken pass was luck, though, IMO. His hand is an inch higher, we win the game. Not a whole lot I can do about that. The fact that it came down to that, though, THAT’S a problem!

        • Michael Shaw

          Exactly. It should not have gotten to that point when Rivers basically throws the ball right into the hands of one of our defenders and they………….drop……………the…………….ball…………..which is what truly lost the game for us!!

      • Frank

        If you want to give guys a blow, then wait 14 more seconds and call it. That would give them 14 more seconds of blow time.

  • tomflex

    I think we all knew that Hali and Houston were major factors on defense, but I for one had no idea they were the defense. No wait…this defense still has high calibur players at most every position so how did we go from 10 pts a half to 31 points?
    Basically….we had no plan B. Without strong consistant pressure on the QB to make quick passes this defensive style becomes instant dog meat…
    Now the question is will Sutton and the Chiefs come up with a suitable, effective plan B in this short period, or will they foolishly carry on with plan A? For the sake of everybody in Red, I pray our man Sutton has a plan B capability.

    • Deadmeat

      I feel like everyone has figured out Suttons Defense. He just can’t make any adjustments to dial up pressure. I am most likely wrong, but seems like he is playing safe to me.

      • Michael Shaw

        No, that is they way it looks since the Buffalo game. Ever since then, our Defense has given up a lot in terms of yardage and points the past two weeks!!

  • RepOurChiefs

    Jason.. now “wild wild west” by Kool moe D will be playing in my head til Sunday bro. Lol

  • anon76returns

    I wouldn’t count on the Broncos’ pass defense being as generous as San Diego’s. Denver’s secondary leads the league in passes defensed, and is tied for 8th in INTs (both better numbers than the Chiefs secondary).
    In addition, since the return of Von Miller QBs are averaging 57% completion, 6.0 yds/att, 10.5 yds/comp, and 181 yards per game against the Broncos. Keep in mind, those include both Broncos losses.

    By way of comparison, QBs opposing the Chargers are averaging 68% completion, 8.4 yds/att,12.4 yds/comp, and 276 yards per game.

    • DoubleD

      Good observations. I think DRC’s status could have an impact in terms of what we can do offensively. Incidentally, the Chiefs offense is averaging about 2 to 1 pass to run. Perhaps upping the run play count a bit is in order?

      • anon76returns

        Could be- the Broncos have a stout run defense this year, but in the last 5 games (also since the return of Von) they’ve managed to give up six runs of at least 25 yards, after only allowing 2 such runs in the first 6 games. I keep thinking they’ll figure it out, but it keeps happening every game.
        Even so, they only give up 3.7 yards/carry, which makes it very hard to sustain drives just by rushing- I think Washington was the only team that’s really come close to doing it against the Broncos all year, and they only had one long scoring drive.
        Kind of a pick your poison deal as long as DRC (and now Bailey) stay productive in the secondary and Von & co. continue putting pressure on the QB.

  • DoubleD

    I think it also worth nothing that Philip Rivers has been playing some really good football in his last few games – better than Manning. Hopefully the Old Man in Denver continues to cool as the season wears on and temperatures drop.

  • tm1946

    With issues of Hali and Houston, our offense, and the rest of it all, just cannot believe this Sunday will be pleasant for us. If Denver was a favorite home, what will they be.

    Can the Chiefs win, guess so, parity and all. Would not bet the farm on it. If Reid has any rabbits left in his hat, better pull them out. 9-2 is great but where do we go from here?

  • PunjabiPete

    I agree. I was just saying yesterday “How badass would we be if we could get the offense that played in San Diego and the defense that played before the break?” The guy in the stall asked me to stop talking to him but my point is still valid.

    Just think about it. We have almost ALWAYS had one OR the other:

    All defense, homeless winos on offense (Schottenheimer days)
    All offense, 3 sleeping kittens comprising our defense (Vermeil days)
    Great draft picks but no one felt like working (Edwards days)
    22 people out on the field actively losing while trying to appease a batshit caveman coach (Haley days)
    Whatever we had last year (Crennel days)

    Did I do any research on any of those teams? Absolutely not, but my gut tells me it’s true, so it must be. What we need is for the defense to step into a time machine and go back to the Raiders game and rekindle that flame, and for the offense to keep opening that playbook up. Even if he’s not as accurate, it was interesting and pretty exciting to see Smith air the ball out, and if nothing else, doing that will at least get defenses to lay off the “put 11 in the tackle box” mentality teams might otherwise employ. If we can get it down to just 8 in the tackle box again, Charles can take care of them (I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean).

    Good write up, and here’s to hoping Hali at least will be back Sunday

  • Michael Shaw

    Good read Jason and some good comments from my fellow addicts. However, I don’t see us winning this game. First of all, without Hali and Houston our pass rush will be nonexistent unless we have Berry playing linebacker the whole game and rushing the QB (which may be a good idea anyway). Secondly, do you really think Manning isn’t chomping at the bit to get the bitter taste of that loss to NE out of his crawl???? He is one of those QB’s that digs in deeper during film study and works overtime to fix the problems he saw in the NE game and the last time he played us two weeks ago. Plus, this Denver team, as much as it PAINS me to admit this, is simply too damn good to lose two in a row. I would love to think our Chiefs are too good to lose three in a row, but I don’t have a warm………………anything about this game. Hopefully we can get back on track against the Redskins next week. Hate to be a “Debbie Downer”, but I have to be realistic about our chances this Sunday. Otherwise I will likely end up having a coronary if we do end up losing!!! Because the first game against Denver I actually broke a chair throwing it across the room!! LOL!! GO CHIEFS!!!!!!