Chiefs' best-case scenario realized

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It was difficult not to think dark thoughts last Sunday about what remains for the Kansas City Chiefs' season. Their 9-2 record has been built on pressuring the opposing quarterback, but one of their top pass-rushers was taken off the field on the back of a motorized cart while another walked off under his own power, but in obvious pain with some sort of arm injury.

Now that things have started to sort themselves out, the Chiefs might have come away as fortunate as they could have hoped. Tamba Hali has only a sprained ankle, and his progress in recovery looks as if it will allow him to play in Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium.

Justin Houston won't play on Sunday, but his injured elbow will not require surgery. That's good news for the Chiefs. He should return at some point later this season, whether it's one, two or three weeks down the road.

In the short-term, these injuries could cause the Chiefs some problems, and perhaps even the AFC West championship. Hali should play Sunday, but probably at something less than peak effectiveness. Houston will be replaced by Frank Zombo, a veteran who is a great backup, but doesn't have Houston's skills.

In the longer term, these injuries don't have to ruin Kansas City's season. That's all the Chiefs could have hoped for just a few days ago.