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Kansas City Chiefs get nothing for moral victory

The Kansas City Chiefs proved they could keep up with the Denver Broncos on Sunday night. Beating them will have to be a challenge for another day.

Mercury Morris is free to rejoice (again). The Chiefs are no longer unbeaten, toppled by the host Broncos 27-17 on "Sunday Night Football." The two teams now stand atop the AFC West together at 9-1.

On NFL Network
NFL Replay
will re-air the Denver Broncos' 27-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs from Week 11 on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

» NFL Network schedule

The good news for the Chiefs: There will be no talk this week of being "exposed" as a fraudulent contender by Peyton Manning. The Kansas City defense didn't succeed in putting Manning on his back, but it did keep him from taking the game over. Manning threw for 318 yards but just one touchdown pass -- a season low.

The Chiefs looked skittish on the big stage early on. NBC's Cris Collinsworth astutely noted that the setting and circumstance alone could be a positive for a team that had piled up wins in a relatively low-key manner. We don't doubt this game will help the Chiefs if they find themselves on the road in January.

But this game wasn't supposed to be about modest victories and teachable moments. We surmise the Chiefs believed they could actually win the damn thing, and they fell well short of that goal.

Alex Smith needs to be much sharper. Jamaal Charles needs to get the ball more. The pass rush -- with zero quarterback hits in two weeks -- must return from the Witness Protection Program.

The Chiefs will get another shot at this. After hosting the 4-6 San Diego Chargers at home next week, the Broncos come to town in a game that could mean the difference between a first-round bye and a wild-card matchup on the road.

Simply being competitive won't be acceptable when these two teams meet again. The Chiefs' real test is coming.

We recapped every Week 11 game on the latest "Around the League Podcast."

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