Kansas City Chiefs Cede AFC West In Loss To Denver Broncos, But For How Long?

In the most recent episode of Sunday Night Football on NBC, a showdown for the AFC West crown between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos, things played out as many expected, ending in a 27-17 win for the hosting Broncos, who improved to 9-1 on the year.

The loss was Kansas City’s first of the 2013 season, dropping them to an identical 9-1 record; with the edge in the season series, Denver wins the first tie-breaker with Kansas City to take control of the division. Kansas City looks to get back to their winning ways at home, as the visiting 4-6 San Diego Chargers come into Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday looking to turn their season around.

So what did Kansas City fans and personnel learn from this Chiefs loss? For starters, Kansas City found out/demonstrated that if you can’t lay a hit on Peyton Manning, you’re going to have a bad day. Going against the top-ranked passing offense in the league, Kansas City brought with them a pair of QB killers in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, part of the league’s only linebacker corps with two members previously ranked in the top 5 for sacks. The two factored into 14 tackles on the day, but Kansas City defenders got to Manning—already hobbled with a high ankle sprain—a total of zero times.

Kansas City’s second lesson/reminder: you can’t win in the NFL without a solid passing game. Andy Reid knows it.

“You’ve got to be able to throw the football in this league,” the Kansas City Chiefs head coach said via ESPN. “We’re working on that.”

Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith went to the air 45 times Sunday night but connected with his intended receiver only 21 times. Two of those passes were good for Kansas City touch downs, but, facing a stingy Denver defense—allowing the 4th fewest rushing yards per game, it wasn’t enough when they only managed 144 yards on the ground and faced an opponent averaging nearly 40 points per game (close to double Kansas City’s 23-point average).

So where does Kansas City go from here? It’s a single loss, so, despite what the satire sites are saying, no one’s packing his bags any time soon. With the Chargers coming to town, the Kansas City defense faces another strong-armed QB and a more mobile one in Philip Rivers. A win against the Chargers will put points back on the board before the Broncos pay Kansas City a visit the following week, a chance for the Chiefs to even the season series and take control of the AFC West back from Denver.

What do the Chiefs need to do to beat San Diego? Can the Chiefs win the second meeting against the Broncos in front of the home crowd?

[Photo from The Denver Post]