The Chiefs' leading receiver already had been ruled out of Sunday's game at Oakland after hurting his ribs while delivering a block in last weekend's game at Cleveland. Bowe underwent a series of MRI exams and other tests this week to determine the extent of the injury.
"Well, one of the things that Bowe presents is he presents some dependability to our offense, playmaking ability," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said earlier this week.
"We all kind of depend on him a little bit," Crennel said. "So now with him being out, what we're going have to do is, we're going to have to rely on those other guys to step up and be able to make some plays for us so that we can generate some offense."
Bowe has 59 catches for 801 yards and three of the Chiefs' eight TD grabs this season.
"Everybody's got to do a better job, collectively," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "Dwayne was a big part of the passing game, obviously. Everybody else is going to have to chip in and make sure they're doing their jobs really well."
Bowe was playing this season on a $9.5 million deal as the team's franchise player, and it's possible the two sides could agree on a new deal or the Chiefs could franchise him again.
Bowe wasn't happy getting the tag last season, though. He refused to sign his tender until well into training camp, forcing him to play catch-up at the start of the year.
The former first-round draft pick rarely speaks to the media, but said a few weeks ago that he wouldn't mind finishing his career in Kansas City. There were reports in previous weeks that he was unhappy with the Chiefs and wanted to become a free agent.
With Bowe ruled out, the Chiefs head into Sunday's game against the Raiders and their final two games against Indianapolis and at Denver with precious few down-field options.
Wide receiver Steve Breaston has been inactive more than he's played in recent weeks, and the Chiefs' next-leading receivers after Bowe are running back Jamaal Charles and former running back Dexter McCluster, who are more adept at catching short-yardage passes.
Bowe had his best season in 2010, when he was voted to the Pro Bowl after catching 72 passes for 1,162 yards and a league-high 15 touchdowns. He had 81 catches for 1,159 yards last season, and has caught 415 passes for 5,728 yards and 39 touchdowns in his six-year career.
"Any time you lose a guy like Dwayne Bowe, it's going to hurt you," Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn said. "He's a special player. He really is."