Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs are sinking fast in the popularity polls.
"After the Philadelphia game, we were being heralded as geniuses on the coaching staff, and the football team was being lauded for a tremendous performance," said Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer.
The Chiefs improved to 4-2 after slugging the Eagles, 24-17, on Oct. 11.
"Several weeks ago, people were ready to place the Super Bowl championship ring and crown on our team. Now all of a sudden they're struggling," Schottenheimer said.
Losers of two straight and three of four, the Chiefs will take a 4-4 record into Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers. Kickoff is 3 p.m. at Arrowhead Stadium.
"THIS IS A 16-game tournament to get where we're trying to get. We don't like being 4-4 because we're a better football team than that," said Schottenheimer. "We'll still play the 16 games out. I think when it all comes out, we'll be very competitive in the things we're trying to do."
Actually, the Chiefs, who've advanced to the playoffs the past two seasons, are playing close to past form. They were 5-3 at the halfway point the past two years, rallying to make the playoffs.
"I don't know what it is. But in the first half of every season, we're 13-11 here. That circumstance puzzles me almost as much as John Elway," Schottenheimer quipped. "We've come back and played well (in the second half). On the positive side, one reason is our players continue to work and learn and improve."
He said he was impressed with practices during last week's bye.
"THERE'S NOTHING wrong with our attitude," he said, noting workouts have not been lengthened. "It doesn't need to be longer. It absolutely doesn't need to be longer. It just needs to be right."
The Chiefs have been stressing work in the scoring zone on both offense and defense, plus specialty teams play.
"We've had a chance to evaluate and analyze the things that have gone on and where we need to improve,'' Schottenheimer said of the bye week. "We've been able to focus on those things. The players have worked their tails off in the last three practice sessions. I think we're all going to benefit from them."
Like KC, San Diego enters with a 4-4 record. The Chargers, however, have won four straight.
"They've averaged 25 points a game the last four games and only given up 10," Schottenheimer said. "We're going to have our hands full."