And yet, heading into the team's bye week, the Chiefs are only two games out in the division with five of their final 10 games (including against the Browns, Panthers and Colts) against divisional opponents. This team has no right to be in contention, but the reality is that the door hasn't yet closed on this season.
The possibility of backing into the playoffs comes not from something I've seen from the Chiefs but rather the flaws that each of the members of the AFC West possess. Nobody wants to win this division.
San Diego's Philip Rivers is suffering from the same turnover issues that plagued him a year ago. It was his five turnovers last night that fueled Denver's comeback road win. San Diego was up by 24 points in the second half and lost a game at home that would have let them seize control of the division. They lost because of critical mistakes by Rivers and coach Norv Turner's conservative play calling that looked like he was trying to bleed out the clock despite the better part of a half to go. San Diego refuses to separate from the crowd.
Denver has a defense that until it met Rivers was as good at giving up points as the Chiefs' unit. And while pundits this morning are saying Manning should be in the MVP discussion, those shouts are a bit premature. Manning's accuracy can't be questioned, but those slow floating passes to the sidelines are destined to be interceptions returned for touchdowns in the future. And the amount of effort it's taking him to get everybody on the same page suggests that mistakes are inevitable when Denver encounters a team with a consistent pass rush.
Oakland is only a half-game better than the Chiefs in the standings, and that's because its defense has given up at least 22 points in all five games they've played. I would have said the Raiders had turned over a new leaf when it comes to penalties, except they committed 12 in their most recent loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
I've watched the Chiefs this season, and I can't give you evidence that things will improve after the bye week. I can only contend that probability remains the Chiefs' greatest ally. But I will say this: This is the first weekend in several that I'm confident the home team won't lose ground in the standings. You can get the bagpipes ready, but it's not quite time to play a funeral dirge for the Chiefs.