KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After their previous defeat, way back in October, the Kansas City Chiefs responded as well as they could have expected. They won eight straight games before losing again on Sunday, this time to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Chiefs can still achieve one of their biggest goals, winning the AFC's No. 1 playoff seed and getting the first-round postseason bye, but it no longer depends only on a victory in the final regular-season game on Saturday at the Denver Broncos (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
"After you lose a game like you lost it [Sunday], it shouldn't be difficult to get ready to go again the next week," quarterback Patrick Mahomes said following the 34-31 loss at Cincinnati. "I think guys will be ready to go. We're playing Denver and they're a good football team. They gave us a challenge this last time we played them, like they always do, and we're playing in Denver, which is a tough place to play. We'll try to fix some things and play better football this week.”
The Chiefs were the AFC's No. 1 or 2 seed in each of the past three seasons. While the Chiefs wouldn't get a first-round bye by being the No. 2 seed, they would play their first two playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium and then be the hosts for the AFC Championship Game if they advanced and the Titans are eliminated beforehand.
"It's kind of good to have certain learning moments," defensive back Tyrann Mathieu said after Sunday's game. "Obviously you never want to lose, especially when you're chasing the things that we're chasing. Any loss feels like a letdown. We just can't really let that affect us going forward. We've still got a lot to play for. ... It's important for us to keep that in mind.
"We've got to learn from this one, as bad as it hurts. ... We've still got a lot of football [left this season and] we need to have confidence going forward."
As for how the Chiefs get past Sunday's narrow defeat, which happened on a walk-off field goal, Mathieu said, "You just go back to work. You don't point fingers. You don't blame coaches or a particular player or a particular series. You just go back to work.
"Obviously, Big Red [coach Andy Reid] won't let us relax. We'll go back to work this week and that's what we need."