For Chiefs, a long way to go

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If it wasn't bad enough that the Kansas City Chiefs have another few months to contemplate their playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts before starting practice again, they now have another reality to ponder. For the first time since the 2002 season, they have the AFC's Super Bowl representative in their division.

Congratulations to the Denver Broncos, who after Sunday's win over the New England Patriots are the first AFC West team to advance to the Super Bowl since the Oakland Raiders 11 years ago. While the Broncos don't have the look of a team that's going to dominate the division for years to comes -- Peyton Manning turns 38 in March -- they're probably not going to disappear any time soon.

Even if the Broncos had lost somewhere on the road to the Super Bowl, it wouldn't have changed much when it comes to the Chiefs. The gap between the teams looked wide during their two meetings this season. The blitz the Broncos put on during their Dec. 1 game against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, going from 21-7 down to 35-21 up while the Chiefs could do little but stand there and watch, was impressive.

The scary part for the Chiefs is that they thought they had the necessary components to compete with Denver's offense. They have strong edge pass-rushers in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali and cornerbacks in Sean Smith, Marcus Cooper and Brandon Flowers who in theory should have been able to match up with Denver wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker.

The Broncos scored 62 points in beating the Chiefs twice, once by 10 points and once by a touchdown.

So the Chiefs have a couple of choices this offseason. They can hope the Broncos come back to the pack. A more solid strategy is to get to work on fixing the many things that ail them.