The Denver Broncos got the message on where they stand in the playoff race and what they need to do to improve their status before they left the locker room after Sunday's road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
They'd gone to KC with a chance to strengthen their position in the AFC West with a victory over the Chiefs. Instead of a win that would have put them in first place in the division with a 7-5 won-loss record, they went home with a 22-9 loss that dropped them into a tie with the Raiders for last place in the division.
From visions of first to the reality of last. That was a sobering change in expectations, especially considering how the Chiefs have taken control of the division with a defense that is improving by the week.
The Chiefs have put together a five-game winning streak to lead the division with an 8-4 record. The Chargers are second at 7-5, and the Broncos and Raiders are next at 6-6.
View photos of the starters for the Denver Broncos.
What's next for the Broncos as they look to get back above the .500 mark in Sunday's home game against the Detroit Lions?
"Kareem Jackson said it best in the locker room after the game," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said of the Broncos' veteran safety. "We have five games left. Each one is a playoff game for us.
"All we have to do is focus on one day at a time, one week at a time, one opponent at a time."
Here are some issues facing the Broncos as they hope to make a playoff push starting with Sunday's game against the Lions:
Offense: If the Broncos are going to make a playoff run, it likely will be led by their defense. They're third in the league with 216 points allowed and 24th with 237 points scored. That's the fewest of any team in the league that does not have a won-loss under .500.
The Broncos have a balanced one-two punch at running back – 670 yards for Javonte Williams, and 605 for Melvin Gordon III. Gordon missed the Chiefs' game with a shoulder injury.
With Gordon out, Williams rushed for 102 yards. Mike Boone picked up some of the slack caused by Gordon's absence by rushing for 35 yards on four carries.
Head coach Vic Fangio said earlier in the week he'd like to see more targets for wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who had two catches for 15 yards on six targets.
Two other areas for concern, Fangio said, are conversions on third-down (4-14 against the Chiefs) and the red zone (1-3).
Defense: As the No. 3 ranking in points allowed shows, this is a strong unit. Broncos management felt it was strong enough to trade franchise icon Von Miller earlier in the season to the Rams for future draft picks.
Miller's 3.5 sacks before the trade still rank second on the team to Malik Reed's team-high five.
In per game averages, the Broncos are ninth in the league in total yards (325.5), 10th in passing yards (220.3) and 10th in rushing (105.2).
Streakers: The Broncos took advantage of a soft schedule to win their first three over the Giants, Jaguars and Jets, then lost the next four. They've been up and down since, with their biggest wins over the Cowboys and Chargers.
The Broncos are looking to start another streak and end a streak of five straight seasons of missing the playoffs and four straight with a losing record.