For the 12th straight season, the NFL won't be getting a repeat champion.
The Kansas City Chiefs made sure of that Sunday night by putting the final nail in Denver's playoff coffin with a dominating 33-10 victory over the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. The victory gave the Chiefs their first sweep of Denver in 16 years.
This game was basically over before you had time to sit down and finish your first egg nog. The Chiefs still came out rolling even though they had clinched a playoff berth earlier in the day when the Steelers knocked off the Ravens.
Kansas City made a mockery of the Broncos' defense in the first quarter by scoring 21 points in a span of just eight minutes, 10 seconds. The Chiefs were able to pile on the points thanks to some big plays that caught the Broncos by surprise.
Although the Broncos could've kept their playoff hopes alive with a victory, they played like a team that had been eliminated a month ago in what was an all-around ugly effort by almost everyone on the roster. As bad as the Broncos' defense was, Denver's offense might have been worse.
The Broncos had 246 total yards and the only reason this score wasn't uglier is because Alex Smith gifted Denver with a first-quarter touchdown that set the Broncos up at Kansas City's 6-yard line. The Broncos would score a touchdown three plays later.
That interception was basically Smith's only mistake of the night. The Chiefs quarterback threw for 244 yards and a touchdown to go with 46 rushing yards and another touchdown. In all, the Chiefs rushed for 238 yards as a team, which was an impressive number considering the Broncos hadn't given up more than 230 yards rushing since 2012.
With an all-out domination of Denver, the Chiefs continue to look like a team that could make a deep run into the postseason, which is exactly where they're headed. This year's playoff berth marks the second year in a row that the Chiefs have made the postseason, which is big news for a team that hadn't made the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1990-95, when they made it in six straight seasons.
As for the Broncos, they better fly back to Denver and kiss their Lombardi Trophy because they won't be adding a new one this season. With Denver out and Kansas City in, let's take a look at six more takeaways, starting with the playoff implications from the Chiefs' win.
1. Playoff implications for everyone
Thanks to the Steelers' victory over Baltimore, the Chiefs clinched a playoff spot before their game kicked off Sunday night. However, there were still some serious playoff implications in this game. The main one that we already mentioned is that the Broncos have now been eliminated from the playoff race, so sorry Broncos fans.
The Chiefs' win also had three other playoff implications:
1. The Dolphins clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2008.
2. A Broncos win would've clinched the AFC West for the Raiders. The Chiefs can win the division and earn a first-round playoff bye with a victory over San Diego in Week 17 and a Raiders loss to Denver.
3. The Buccaneers are still alive in the NFC playoff race. The Kansas City win means the Bucs can still get in the postseason through the old strength-of-victory tiebreaker. All they need now is for nine games to go their way, starting Monday night with a Cowboys win over Detroit.
Speaking of the Buccaneers, Denver's loss means that both Super Bowl participants will be left out of the playoffs since 2003, when Tampa Bay and Oakland missed the postseason the year after playing in Super Bowl XXXVII.
2. Tyreek Hill runs wild ... again
A huge play from Tyreek Hill has basically become a weekly thing for the Chiefs, and Sunday night's game against Denver was no different. Although the rookie generally lines up as a wide receiver, the Chiefs have been utilizing him as a running back at times over the past few weeks, and one of those times came during the first quarter against Denver.
On first-and-10 from Kansas City's 30-yard line, Smith handed the ball off to Hill, and Hill did the rest.
That 70-yard touchdown run gave the Chiefs a 14-0 lead.
That run also put Hill in rare company. For one, Hill is the only player this season with touchdown runs of more than 60 yards. Remember, this guy's primary offensive position is at receiver, although it might not be much longer. Hill's 70-yard run also allowed him to join this elite club.
Tyreek Hill: 3rd player in NFL history w/ 3+ rush TD & 6+ receiving TD in his rookie season, joining Gale Sayers (1965) & Doak Walker (1950)— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) December 26, 2016
Overall, the rookie finished with six carries for 95 yards.
3. Travis Kelce decides to one-up Tyreek Hill
After Hill's 70-yard touchdown run, Travis Kelce must've gotten a little jealous, because later in the first quarter he pulled off a long play of his own. With Kansas City sitting on its 20-yard line, Smith threw a screen to Kelce, who then showed off his wild speed.
We can probably all agree that he's not as fast as Hill. However, that 80-yard score is the longest touchdown catch by any Chiefs player this season.
Thanks in large part to the touchdown, Kelce set a career high for receiving yards. The Chiefs tight end finished the game with 160 yards, crushing his previous career high of 140 yards. The 100-yard game was Kelce's sixth of the season, which tied him with Tony Gonzalez (2004) for most 100-yard receiving games by a tight end in Chiefs history.
The big plays from Kelce and Hill marked the first time since 1968 that the Chiefs got two touchdowns of 70-plus yards in the same game. It also marked the first time in franchise history that the Chiefs have gotten two touchdowns of 70-plus yards in the same quarter.
4. Broncos' beat-up defense gets rolled
The Chiefs on Sunday did what any smart NFL team would do: They took advantage of a wounded opponent. A big reason the Broncos' defense was so vulnerable against the Chiefs is because they had some major talent missing from their starting lineup. Not only did T.J. Ward and Brandon Marshall both miss the game, but the Broncos also lost Derek Wolfe early on when the starting defensive end aggravated a neck injury that he had been attempting to play through.
With those three on the sideline, the No. 2-ranked Broncos defense got torched to the tune of 484 yards. That total marks the first time since 2013 that the Broncos have given up more than 480 yards in a game.
Of course, you can't blame everything on injuries. The Chiefs' defense seemed to thrive against Denver despite the fact it didn't have Justin Houston. The pass rusher, who recorded three sacks in Kansas City's first meeting with the Broncos, was inactive Sunday due to swelling in his knee.
5. Broncos' offense sets football back 100 years
This game got so ugly that a Chiefs defensive lineman threw more touchdown passes than Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian.
Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe rubbed salt in the Broncos' wounds when he threw a 2-yard touchdown pass with just 1:52 left.
That pass is proof that Siemian was the third-best quarterback in the game. The Broncos passer was an ugly 17 of 43 for 183 yards, although it wasn't completely his fault. The Broncos' offensive line struggled and Denver had no running game to speak of, which is becoming quite common these days.
Despite the fact that this game was close for three quarters, the Broncos gave up on the run early and only managed 63 yards on the ground. Now that they're officially eliminated from postseason contention, coach Gary Kubiak can start focusing on how to get Denver's offense functioning in time for next season. It makes sense to start now, because he's going to need every second he can get to fix the trainwreck that was Denver's offense in 2016.
6. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night
Despite the ugly weather, Chiefs fans still came to celebrate the holiday at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night. Not only was Santa getting some much needed rest after a night of delivering gifts, but it looks like he brought Mrs. Claus and Rudolph with him.
Yes, that thing on the far left that you can barely see is someone in a reindeer costume.
There were actually several Santas at the game. I'm not sure which one is the real one.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.