Have you ever been sitting around on a Sunday after the Chiefs have pulled off yet another victory, watching a game between the Lions and the Cardinals and wondering who you should root for?
Then today’s your lucky day!
In this series we’ll go through the games each week and explain, from a Chiefs fan perspective, who you should and shouldn’t root for and which games are the most important.
If you want to know how I determine the rankings, or why not every game is included, see the explanation here.
Also, a new rule. Once a team falls 3 games behind the Chiefs, they will no longer be considered a relevant team for our rooting interests. At this point the Chiefs look good enough that even falling 3 games behind would take a miracle to make up. Therefore a team like the Broncos is no longer a serious threat.
1: Bengals over Ravens
Not many games we care about this week, as most of the AFC contenders are on their bye, so this game gets the top spot almost by default.
The Ravens made the AFC race much more interesting by beating the Patriots, and with the Browns losing in pathetic fashion and the Steelers not looking all that impressive it’s hard to see them losing the division. That means we will be rooting for them to lose every week.
2: Dolphins over Colts
Brissett got injured against the Steelers, but the reports indicate that it wasn’t too bad and that he might even play against the Dolphins. While the Texans have the division lead we should still root against the Colts to make sure they don’t surge and cause us issues.
3: Chargers over Raiders
This one doesn’t really matter. While both teams are uncomfortably close to the Chiefs in the standings, it doesn’t make much of a difference which one actually wins. The Chargers are the obvious choice since they have the extra loss, but they still seem to be the better team on paper and could be more likely to make a run.
Ignoring the wildcards (since the Chiefs are likely winning the division), here’s how the AFC is shaping up so far.
- Patriots (8-1)
- Ravens (6-2)
- Texans (6-3)
- Chiefs (6-3)
The Ravens’ win over the Patriots really shook things up, while the Texans’ win over the Jaguars gave a lot of clarity to that division.
The biggest goal for the Chiefs should be to get a 1st round bye, which means getting one of the top 2 seeds. That means finishing above two of the other division winners. That’s quite doable.
Whether the Chiefs manage to finish in front of the Patriots will depend heavily on whether or not they win in Foxborough. A Patriots win means the Chiefs have virtually no hope of passing them, but a Chiefs win means they’re only 1 game back with the tiebreaker. The Patriots’ remaining schedule actually has some real teams (including the Eagles, Cowboys, Bills, and Texans), so given a Chiefs win in that game there’s a very realistic chance that they can be caught.
The Chiefs already have a tiebreaker over the Ravens, and at nearly equal records that means we just have to do better than them the rest of the season (even by half a game) and we’ll top them. Although they get the Bengals this week their schedule after that is quite difficult, so they should be the easiest of the bunch to exceed.
The Texans are likely going to be the team that makes or breaks our chances of a first round bye. Like the Ravens all we have to do is finish with a better record than them through the rest of the year to top them, but their schedule isn’t all that difficult. They have the Ravens, Patriots, and Colts, but other than that their schedule isn’t all that intimidating.
The Jaguars were our one hope to get that tiebreaker back, but with their loss to the Texans in London the Texans got the tiebreaker plus a 2 game lead. If the Colts overtake them again they also have the tiebreaker over us so it won’t matter.
Altogether the Chiefs will need to finish 7-0 or 6-1 to have a realistic chance of catching the Patriots unless they really fall off. But the first round bye is a different question.
If the Chiefs finish 6-1, it would be absolutely shocking if they didn’t get a top 2 seed. At that point the Texans would have to finish 6-1 as well, which while possible doesn’t really seem realistic, while the Ravens would need to finish 7-1, which again doesn’t seem realistic.
We saw how good this Chiefs team can be when healthy the last two weeks, when even Matt Moore was able to be competitive. With Mahomes back the Chiefs are the most likely of those three to go on a run.