(Ed. Note: This story was published on Thursday, Nov. 29, the start of a series to diagnose all 20 teams that will miss the playoffs this year. The headline to the story and theme to the series is purely coincidental and has no connection to the tragic Jovan Belcher murder-suicide in Kansas City on Saturday, Dec. 1. The author and the Football Nation family extend their condolences to Belcher's daugher, his loved ones and the Chiefs community.)
The season is already over for some teams, at least when it comes to postseason hopes.
When they finally succumb to statistical reality of dashed dreams, we'll be here to pick up the sad, lifeless bodies, once so full of hope back in September.
We'll determine what killed all 20 non-contenders between now and the time the playoffs get underway.
Our autopsies began, naturally, with the worst team in football, one who demonstrated encouraging signs of life eleven months ago. That was before they degenerated into the walking dead that we knew them as for the past several months.
Subject: Kansas City Chiefs
Date of Death: November 25, 2012
Record at Time of Death: 1-10
Contributing Factors to Death
1. Poor Quarterback Play
That six year, $62.7M deal that Matt Cassel signed in 2009 would be total highway robbery, if not for his statistically excellent 2010.
Since then, in eight games over the 2011 and 2012 seasons, he's thrown 16 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
In 2012 alone, that ratio worsens to six scores and 12 picks over nine games. That leaves him with a rating of 66.7, the lowest he's had in one season since his first career start in 2008.
Former first round pick Brady Quinn also made 3 starts, and fared much worse. Not only did he not throw a single touchdown, but he supplemented that poor output with 4 interceptions.
Between the two men, that's six touchdowns (plus one rushing TD for Cassel) and 16 picks. The Kansas City QBs this year combined for seven total touchdowns and 23 total turnovers, a big reason the Chiefs are dead last in Real Quarterback Rating.
To add insult, Cassel's last touchdown pass was thrown on October 28.
2. Frequent Turnovers
While 'consistency' is an admirable quality, we here at the morgue always shake our heads whenever we see that word applied to giveaways.
To complement those 16 interceptions, the Chiefs also lost 16 fumbles.
Cassel is responsible for 19 of those 32 turnovers, adding seven fumbles to his putrid season. Would-be intimidating running back combination Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis contributed two apiece.
In seven of their 11 games, the Chiefs turned the ball over 3 times or more. That includes three games of four turnovers, and a loss to the Chargers, where the ball was coughed up six times.
3. Misfortune of Playing Superior Competition
It's not enough for a team to lose, simply because they turned the ball over. They also have to play a team that takes advantage of those turnovers, and turns them into points.
To that end, the Chiefs have a unique losing record of a different kind: they are 0-6 against Quality Opponents and have been outscored 24.7-11.3 in those six games.
Among their defeats, they lost to the 10-1 Falcons, 9-2 Ravens, 8-3 Broncos, 6-5 Bengals, 6-5 Buccaneers, and 6-5 Steelers.
Three turnovers against the Falcons were dooming, as was Matt Ryan's 3 TD performance. The Ravens merely won 9-6, but forced four turnovers in trademark Baltimore fashion. The Broncos also won a veritable nailbiter, 17-9, but Quinn was ineffective at moving the ball deep.
Cincinnati and Tampa Bay won blowouts, 28-6 and 38-10 respectively, sustaining a combined 872 yards of offense between the two games.
The Pittsburgh game was close; a rain-soaked Monday nighter in which their lone consolation was injuring Ben Roethlisberger. They still lost 16-13, even against the hobbled Byron Leftwich.