Derrick Johnson: We're 9-2, not 2-9

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The collective confidence of the Kansas City Chiefs should be soaring. After winning only two games last season, the 9-2 Chiefs are tied for the lead in the AFC West and will play for first place at home Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

But after losing their last two, they don't sound like a particularly confident bunch. The Chiefs at times sound as if they're trying to talk themselves into believing that the season's first nine games weren't a dream but their reality.

"We're 9-2," linebacker Derrick Johnson felt it necessary to remind everyone earlier in the week. "We're not 2-9."

This might be more of an issue for the Chiefs than most teams, including the Broncos. Denver led 24-0 at halftime last week in New England but wound up losing in overtime to the Patriots.

But the Broncos are coming from a good place. They won the last two division championships and their quarterback, Peyton Manning, wears a Super Bowl championship ring, albeit from his days with the Indianapolis Colts.

The Chiefs have no such rich and recent history. Their immediate success this season was a surprise to everyone, and it's not difficult to understand how some of their players who have been around for awhile might wonder whether it was indeed all a mirage.

That's been the challenge this week for Chiefs coach Andy Reid. He's been around long enough to understand that most seasons have their ups and downs and that's it's just taken the Chiefs more time than usual this year to experience the negatives.

So Reid and his staff have been in the confidence-building mode this week.

"You've got to be confident in this business at all times," Reid said. "You've got to have a short memory is what you have to have.

"I will tell you this is not a business to be in if you don't have a [lot] of confidence. You have to be willing to learn from your mistakes, learn quickly, and then go into that next one with a blank slate, start over again and give it your best shot."