The Kansas City Chiefs are right in the middle of a brutal part of their schedule that includes the final four teams in last seasons' playoff picture. That's not including last weeks' game against the New England Patriots. After losing to the Steelers on Sunday night, the Chiefs can look forward to the Bears, Jets and Packers over the next three weeks. Most Chiefs fans knew coming into this season and taking a look at that schedule that we would truly learn how far this team has come along after this current stretch of games. Then the injuries happened. First it was Tony Moeaki, then Eric Berry, then Jamaal Charles and finally Matt Cassel.
It's hard to get a read on how good of a team we actually had when everyone was healthy because we didn't see it this year, and we still won't see it. But this is the NFL and nobody was going to feel sorry for the Chiefs. I don't see the Houston Texans struggling after losing Mario Williams, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and now, Matt Leinart. Obviously some of those weren't season-ending injuries, but all teams have to deal with injuries and while most teams around the NFL couldn't bounce-back from the injuries the Chiefs have suffered this year, that doesn't change the schedule laid out on front of them.
And for the Chiefs, that didn't change from them playing back-to-back primetime games in front of the entire country. It's one thing to be struggling and have to play good teams when you don't have your star players healthy, it's quite another to have to do it in front of the entire country against two of the best teams teams in the AFC, in primetime, in consecutive weeks.
But it took a pretty special effort from the Kansas City Chiefs defense to go out there and perform the way that they did over the last two weeks. Especially considering the Chiefs offense gave away seven, yes SEVEN, turnovers in the last two games. So while the Chiefs offense was embarrassing itself and all Chiefs fans around the country, the defense gave all of us something we could hang our hat on at the end of the day. The Chiefs went to Foxboro and gave Tom Brady and the Patriots offense all they could handle for the first half of that game. The Eagles couldn't do that at home with their "dream team" defensive backfield.
The Patriots may have won the game by a final score of 34-3, but anyone who watched that game will know that Tom Brady's 15-27 performance for 234 yards and two touchdowns wasn't very Brady-like. Only two other times this season was he held to fewer than 234 yards passing. Brady had 198 yards passing in a loss to the Steelers and 226 in a win against the Raiders. It was a couple of big plays in the second half that broke that game open, but it was obvious that the Chiefs had Brady struggling for a good portion of that game and not many teams around the NFL can say that, let alone do it on Monday night football in Foxboro.
It was mentioned several times on the Sunday night broadcast how well the Chiefs defense was playing and keeping them in the game against the Steelers. I don't think it can be stated enough how proud Chiefs fans should be of the defense right now. They held the Pittsburgh Steelers to 291 yards of total offense and just one touchdown, all while having the Chiefs offense hand them four turnovers. (The last was at the end of the game, but still) If it hadn't of been for the defense against the Patriots and Steelers, I'd be struggling to look forward to the rest of the season.
But as it stands now, I know that former Broncos quarterback, Kyle Orton will have a full week of practice to get acclimated to this team and hopefully he picks up the offense quickly. Because with the way this defense has played over the last two weeks, there is reason to be optimistic if Orton can come in and at-worst, be average for the final five games of the season. So while playoff chances may be hanging on by a very small thread, I still find good reason to feel good about a particular part of the Chiefs team right now. I wasn't sure that would have been the case a few weeks ago.