KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We all know predicting the score of a game is pure luck, so I don’t think it any huge achievement that I called it Broncos 27, Chiefs 17 before Sunday night’s game.
But I will say this: There was little that happened in Denver on Sunday night that surprised me, and, if you had truly paid attention to Kansas City’s first nine games of the season, you shouldn’t have been surprised, either.
Let’s start with the defense. The Chiefs have been allowing big pass plays all season, and to far lesser players than Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas. So, why in the world would anyone think the Chiefs wouldn’t give them up to the Broncos? Their style of play, as noted before by Chiefs players and coaches alike, dictates it.
I tried to sound a note of caution earlier in the season that Kansas City could get away with allowing big plays against lesser opponents such as Houston and Oakland but would have trouble once the difficult portion of its schedule kicked in. Many of you dismissed such talk with the bizarre claim that I was just looking for faults because I hate the Chiefs.
But you saw what happened Sunday night as well as I did.
So, it was also reasonable to think the Broncos would score some points. Maybe not their season average because Kansas City is one of the better defensive teams they’ve faced, but certainly they would bust through the 17-point barrier the Chiefs had built over the first nine games.
Let’s turn to the offense, which has been propped up all season by favorable field position. Even then, heading into the Denver game, the Chiefs had scored only 16 offensive touchdowns, none in their previous six quarters. It’s obvious by now that Kansas City has limited offensive capability, so why in the world would anyone think the Chiefs were capable of winning a shootout against the league’s highest-scoring team?
I told you beforehand that unless the special teams and defense chipped in with touchdowns or consistently favorable field position, the Chiefs would have trouble keeping up with the Broncos on the scoreboard. I thought that once the score got into the mid to upper 20s, the game would be out of reach for the Chiefs.
Even I overestimated that. Turns out the Broncos could have stopped scoring once they hit the upper teens and still won the game.
Wonder of wonders, it turns out I was right and Kansas City is a flawed team. I’m not calling the Chiefs frauds. I don’t believe they are. They are still 9-1, and I believe them to be capable of some good things.
They will achieve those things only if they can get back to playing the way they did defensively early in the season. If they can’t pressure the quarterback and create turnovers, it’s going to be a serious struggle the final six games of the season.
The next two games will be telling. The Chiefs face the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium and then a rematch with the Broncos, also at Arrowhead. You can wish all you want that the magic of Arrowhead will cure all of Kansas City’s ills.
Maybe it will. You can also wish for Santa Claus to slide down your chimney on Christmas Eve. I’m not going to be the one to ruin your holiday by telling you it won’t happen.
Just know this: Without making significant improvement from what they’ve put out the past few weeks, the Chiefs won’t beat the Chargers or the Broncos no matter where they play the games. And that, friends, is not the raving of some lunatic who hates the Chiefs.
It’s just the level-headed view of an observer not looking at the world through red and yellow lenses.