Can flawed Chiefs be contenders?

After starting the season 9-0, Dwayne Bowe and the Chiefs have lost three straight. AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Getty Images

With a dozen games in the books for the 2013 season, I think we know an awful lot about the Kansas City Chiefs. First off, the obvious: This is the most improved team in the league, and Andy Reid is the leader for Coach of the Year honors through Week 13. The Chiefs are heading to the postseason, most likely as the fifth seed overall in the AFC, and I would pick them to win their first-round matchup if they visit the Cincinnati Bengals or Indianapolis Colts. The arrow is pointing in the right direction for this organization as a whole. But they are also a rung below the top teams in the NFL right now.

While things are very promising for the Chiefs looking at the big picture, they have now lost three in a row, including two to division rival Denver. This team is much different right now than what we saw earlier in the season, when their defense was dominant and the offense leaned heavily on Jamaal Charles and asked little from Alex Smith and the passing game. But we know that this formula is difficult to sustain in the modern NFL, and that is proving to be true for Kansas City as the 2013 campaign wears on.

With a second loss to the Denver Broncos in the club's rearview mirror, let's run through a "State of the Chiefs" as we look ahead to the final four games and the playoffs. Can Kansas City get back on track and be a legitimate Super Bowl contender?