KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 13: Wide receiver Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos reacts after catching a 56-yard touchdown pass against safety Reshard Langford #48 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half on November 13, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Denver defeated Kansas City 17-10. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
The story lines facing the Kansas City Chiefs right now are more big-picture type things because they fall to 4-5, a game out of first place in the AFC West, with the toughest part of their schedule coming up. The largest story line after Week 10 is whether the Chiefs just saw the season slip through their hands, so that's where we'll start.
Five story lines to come out of this game:
Chiefs season on the brink of collapse. I use the word collapse here to mean they won't be making the playoffs. Sitting at 4-3 and games coming up against the Dolphins and Broncos, the vast majority of Chiefs fans thought they had a shot at making a division title run, even with the daunting five-game stretch that now faces us. The overwhelming story line coming out of this game is that the Chiefs' chances of competing in the AFC West late into December took a major blow on Sunday. I've found over the past few years that I'm more optimistic than the average Chiefs fan and even I gotta say it's not looking good right now. This one feels different. That said....
....this is still the AFC West. It's not a good division. At all. If the Chiefs were in any other division, I probably would've given up hope by now. But they're not. They're in the AFC West. For that reason, the door is still open on the season. The problem with holding out hope is...
...this five-game stretch is killer: at Patriots, Steelers, at Bears, at Jets and Packers. Those first two are on national TV and I'm wondering right now if that's a good thing. The Chiefs have shown us through nine games this season that they can play like one of the worst teams in the league. Now they have to not only avoid doing that, but play their best football, for five straight weeks.
The offensive line is a problem. The best thing I can say about them is that they're inconsistent -- they have flashes where they look good. But then they have even longer spans where they look bad, really bad. Last week it was five sacks given up against Miami and this week it was four sacks given up against Denver. Progress? It's not just the passing game, either. Jackie Battle has gone from a 119-yard debut as the Chiefs feature back to games of 76, 70, 40 and 61. Sunday's 61-yard effort was largely aided by a 34-yard run.
Matt Cassel is injured in the loss. He has a wrap on his hand, per the KC Star. Here's a Q&A with him about the injury (where he didn't give us much information). I would venture to guess this is the most-discussed story line throughout the week around here, on the radio and in the paper. It doesn't, however, sound like a long-term issue.