KANSAS CITY, Mo. —There is crushing disappointment and there is outright panic, and we don’t blame Kansas City Chiefs fans for being stuck somewhere in the middle as December gets underway. Slipping from 9-0 to 9-3 will do that to anybody.
That said, keep the sharp objects out of arm’s reach. Playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium are probably toast. Now the goal is to make sure the playoff dream isn’t toast, too.
“We’re trying to peak at the right time,” Chiefs receiver Junior Hemingway said Sunday night after the club’s third straight defeat, and the second to rival Denver in three weeks. “We know we don’t need to peak right now. As games go by, each game, (we’ve got to) get better, get better, so we can peak at the right time, when the time comes.”
Fair enough. We’re just hoping this team didn’t actually peak back on Oct. 13.
BRONCOS 35, CHIEFS 28: THREE (PAINFUL) MONDAY QUESTIONS TO PONDER
:03 … Will Branden Albert be up and at ’em for the trip to Washington this weekend?
Hopefully. The replays on the Chiefs’ big left tackle’s injury were gruesome — it appeared as if the lower part of his left leg was bent backward, and awkwardly so, in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s contest. The veteran was reportedly in some discomfort in the locker room after the game, but coach Andy Reid described it as a “sprain,” and allowed that X-rays were negative. We’ll know more today, apparently, as an MRI is scheduled, as per team protocol.
Albert’s tweet Sunday night:
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Pain is temporary. It’s weakness leaving the body. We are strong team no matter what! Thank you all for your concern. It really means a lot
:02 … After three straight weeks of stud pocket passers, how will the Chiefs handle the multifaceted threat that is Robert Griffin III?
Fair question, that. The defensive game plan against Michael Vick back on Sept. 19 certainly worked well enough, as the Philly quarterback completed just 13 of 30 throws, didn’t break contain that often and wound up getting picked twice.
Then again, you won’t always stop everything in the zone-read game when it’s run right, either: Eagles back LeSean McCoy rambled fro 158 yards on 20 carries. Plus, RG III lit up Reid’s Eagles last fall to the tune of 14-for-15 passing and four TD throws on Nov. 18 and 16-for-24 passing for 198 yards and two more scores on Dec. 23 in a series sweep. And if this defense is still missing top pass rusher Justin Houston on the outside, that’s one more side of the field that you’re probably going to have to worry about.
:01 … Let’s see: After three straight losses, should I run for the ledge, or just flat-out sprint?
Hey, now! Perspective, Sarge. If we’d have told you in May that the Chiefs would be 9-3 after Week 13, admit it — you’d have taken that in a heartbeat. But then 9-0 happened, and we all got stars in our eyes, media included.
This isn’t the 1972 Dolphins, or even the 2007 Patriots. This a vastly improved football team from a year ago that still has rough spots — at wideout and at cornerback, especially.
“Our goal was to make the playoffs,” tailback Jamaal Charles said. “It’s anybody’s game from here. It’s not like the (NCAA) national championship, it’s not like the BCS; it’s like a new season. … We have a good team. It’s not like we’re a bad team. We definitely have a playoff team.”
The only carrot off the stick, at the moment, is home-field advantage in the postseason. Look: In March, this was Denver’s division. And in June. And in September. And … well, now. We’re going to side with linebacker Derrick Johnson here: As much as getting swept by the Broncos stinks (and other unsavory words), it’s that home setback to San Diego sandwiched in the middle that hurts far, far more.
At least, for now.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com.