How Chiefs can make the playoffs

The Chiefs need Alex Smith to keep his turnover total low, like he did late in his 49ers career. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

The Kansas City Chiefs can take solace in knowing that when you've hit rock bottom, the only place to go is up. A year after the Indianapolis Colts became just the fifth team since the advent of the wild card to make the playoffs a season after earning the first overall pick, the Chiefs will look to follow suit and rebound after stumbling through a 2-14 season in 2012.

New general manager John Dorsey and new head coach Andy Reid are in charge of turning this team around, and they've made a lot of changes this offseason. Of course, to snag a division title, the Chiefs will have to somehow get past a stacked Denver Broncos team led by one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game. But hey, at least one team has gone from worst to first in its division each of the past 10 seasons.

Here are the four biggest keys to Kansas City's hopes for a quick turnaround and a surprise playoff appearance this season.

Improve the defense

How do you finish 25th in points allowed despite sending three starting defenders to the Pro Bowl (plus a fourth as an injury replacement)? Well, the holes between those stars have to be pretty big, and Dorsey and Reid went into free agency this offseason intent on filling them.

The addition of lineman Mike DeVito should prove beneficial if new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton runs a one-gap style defense and allows his line to attack -- a style that could be a better fit for Kansas City's incumbent linemen, including former first-round picks Dontari Poe and Tyson Jackson. It could also help free up Kansas City's linebackers, especially the vastly underrated Derrick Johnson.