AFC Playoffs Q&A: It's wide open

5. Can the Chiefs fix their defense before it ruins their playoff hopes? The implosion of the Chiefs' defense has to rank among the most bizarre stories of the regular season. This unit was unquestionably the league's best through the first nine weeks, as it forced turnovers, produced sacks in droves and consistently kept opponents out of the end zone. That was before they stopped facing second-rate quarterbacks and squared off against the likes of Luck, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. Once that occurred, Kansas City's weaknesses -- poor coverage in the secondary and the inability of defensive coordinator Bob Sutton to make adjustments to his aggressive schemes -- became major issues. The good news for the Chiefs is that their offense has blossomed in the second half, and Pro Bowl outside linebacker Justin Houston, who had 11 sacks before sustaining a dislocated elbow in a loss to San Diego on Nov. 24, is finally healthy again. That should be enough to help the Chiefs get past Indianapolis in the wild-card round. But it won't do much to help their chances after that.

6. Can the Chargers do any damage? The Chargers would've been a sexy pick to go from unheralded wild-card team to scary postseason contender before their 27-24 overtime win over Kansas City. That's not going to happen after their play in that contest. San Diego was fortunate that Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop missed a potential game-winning field goal at the end of regulation, because they deserved to lose. The Chiefs didn't even dress their best players, yet San Diego needed an extra period to get that victory. That wasn't a good look for a team trying to build momentum for the postseason. Granted, the Chargers do have plenty to like: Rivers returned to Pro Bowl form this year and they have won five of their past six games (including a huge win at Denver on Dec. 12). But let's also not forget that San Diego was 4-6 at one point for a reason. The Chargers are as inconsistent as they come, and they're about to go on the road and face the Bengals. Cincinnati has enough defense to send the Chargers home early.

7. Which offensive player will be the X factor in this postseason? Denver has waited five years for running back Knowshon Moreno to make a major impact. The 2009 first-round pick delivered this season, just as the Broncos were looking at other backfield options for productivity. Moreno ran for 1,015 yards, added another 507 receiving yards (on 55 receptions) and scored 12 touchdowns. Those numbers mean even more when considering how valuable Moreno is to a pass-happy offense that still needs balance from time to time. Anybody who watched the Broncos' loss to Baltimore last postseason remembers how much Denver's offense struggled when Moreno sustained a knee injury. Denver has more depth at the position entering this postseason -- with Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman in reserve -- but Moreno is the best of the bunch. His presence means Manning can create even more magic with play-action passing.

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