Smith suffered a lacerated spleen in last Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The extent of Smith’s injury wasn’t immediately known, and in fact wasn’t diagnosed until Christmas Day. Fortunately Smith’s lacerated spleen won’t require surgery, though it will require him to watch Chiefs games from the sidelines for a while.
The 8-7 Chiefs face steep odds of making the playoffs this year, while the 9-6 Chargers can breathe a bit easier with Smith out on Sunday.
Kansas City can clinch a playoff spot if three things happen this Sunday: Kansas City beats San Diego, the Baltimore Ravens lose, and the Houston Texans either lose outright or tie. Considering the Texans play the Jaguars on Sunday, the latter was unlikely to happen, so the Chiefs needed every possible thing to go right.
With Smith out, the Chargers are poised to secure their spot in the playoffs this Sunday. All San Diego needs to clinch a playoff berth is to beat the Chiefs. Now that backup QB Chase Daniel is getting the start, that seems much more likely.
Daniel has just one career start, ironically in Week 17 last season, and even more ironic against the Chargers. Though the Chiefs lost to the Chargers in that Week 17 game last year, Daniel had a decent game in completing 21-of-30 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown.
Kansas City Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said the usual recovery time for a lacerated spleen is six weeks. Though it’s a long shot, that would mean Smith could play again this season if the Chiefs make a deep playoff run.
With the Denver Broncos ahead of them in the AFC West, not to mention the Patriots and Colts also battling for the AFC’s spot in the Super Bowl, that seems like an unlikely scenario.
Smith said he originally “thought it was something I ate” rather than an injury. He actually worked out Monday and participated in practice Tuesday and Wednesday. “I just kind of had this discomfort and nausea kind of coming and going. There was a bug going around. I thought it was that,” Smith told ESPN.
However, on Christmas Day he saw a doctor for a scan of his abdomen that showed a three-centimeter laceration and a slightly swollen spleen.