OAKLAND, Calif. -- With their 5-0 start, the Kansas City Chiefs were on the verge of establishing themselves as the favorites to win not only their division, but the AFC.
With their two-game losing streak, including Thursday night's 31-30 loss to the Oakland Raiders, the Chiefs have dropped back in the race to gain the AFC's top playoff seed. They have plenty of work remaining to claim their second straight AFC West championship.
"Two in a row we've lost," quarterback Alex Smith said. "We've got a long time to think about this.
"We've got to just go do it. We've got to go to practice. We've got to get back to [getting] everybody involved. We've got to get a plan together and go out and execute it the way we know we can. Then obviously come crunch time, whatever unit is on the field, we've got to find a way to make the play to win the game. That's all three phases. Everybody is included."
After winning their first five games, the Chiefs started the most important three-game stretch of their schedule, one that would determine the course of their season. At that point, they had a lead of at least two games in the standings over every AFC team except the one-loss Broncos, so they could pull away from the pack by sweeping the three games from Pittsburgh, Oakland and Denver.
Instead, they failed the first two tests. The third one comes on Oct. 30, a Monday night game, against the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium.
At 5-2, they'll drop behind the 4-2 Steelers in the AFC standings if Pittsburgh beats the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Steelers have the tiebreaker over the Chiefs because of their victory over Kansas City last Sunday.
Four other AFC teams have only two losses, including the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
The Chiefs are still in good shape in the AFC West race, but the Broncos would go to 4-2 and pull to within a half-game of Kansas City by beating the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
The Chiefs would have buried the Raiders by winning Thursday night. Instead, Oakland is 3-4 and still lurking in the AFC West race.