Where do the Chiefs stand in the playoff race?
If you remember last week’s playoff picture, you’ll know that a Chiefs loss against the Raiders would have dramatically complicated the division race, while a win simplified it.
Thankfully the Chiefs won, so we get the simple picture.
The Chiefs have a 2 game lead and the tiebreaker. With 4 games remaining that means the Raiders have to be at least 3 games better over the last 4 to win the division. That’s not going to happen.
With a magic number of 2 it’s possible the Chiefs clinch the division this week with a win against the Patriots and a Raiders loss to the Titans. The Broncos are technically still alive in the division race, but need to win out and have the Chiefs lose out. The Chargers are eliminated due to tiebreakers.
First Round Bye
The most important race now is for the first round bye, which will be difficult but not impossible. Naturally we need to jump either the Ravens or the Patriots. We already have the tiebreaker over the Ravens, and will have the tiebreaker over the Patriots if we win this week (if we lose we won’t have much of a chance at the bye regardless).
That makes things easier, but even if we win out we still would need the Patriots to lose another game or the Ravens to lose two more games.
After the Chiefs, the Patriots have the Bengals, Bills, and Dolphins left on the schedule. As it stands the Bills have a chance, but it may be asking a bit much for the Bengals or Dolphins to beat them. To jump the Patriots we’d realistically need them to lose to the Bills.
The Ravens have the Bills, Browns, Jets, and Steelers. Again the Bills have a chance, but the Ravens should be significantly better than those other 3 teams. However, keep in mind that the Browns beat them easily and the Steelers took them to overtime earlier in the season, so I wouldn’t write those games off yet.
So the Chiefs have a path to a bye, but they need to win out to have a realistic chance.
The 3 Seed
In my opinion there’s not enough of a difference between the 3 and 4 seed to be worth worrying about, but for completeness I’ll talk about it.
Obviously the Texans are the main talking point here, and they have the same record as us but have the tiebreaker. That means we need a better record than them over the last 4 games.
They have the Broncos, Titans, Buccaneers, and Titans (again) remaining. While they’ll be favored in most or all of those games, I don’t see them going 4-0. If the Chiefs win out I’d be surprised if the Texans were an issue.
Possible First Round Opponent
Of course who we play depends on what our seed is, but right now with the 4th seed we would play the Bills, who have a stranglehold on the first wildcard slot.
If we get the 3rd seed it suddenly becomes much more complicated. 4 teams are within 1 game of that spot. Personally, I wouldn’t mind having a rematch with the Raiders, since we seem to have a pretty easy time beating them. The Steelers also wouldn’t be a bad get as they’re not as good as their record indicates.
The Colts and Titans would make me a bit more nervous, if only because they already beat us. Although even then I don’t think either game would be replicated (Mahomes only scoring 13 or the number of ridiculous plays the Titans had are unlikely to happen again).