Where do the Chiefs stand in the playoff race?
It’s with a sad heart that I announce the Rooting Rankings are being retired for the 2019 season. With the Ravens winning through their tough stretch, and the Patriots winning through their not quite as ridiculously easy stretch, and the difference between the 3 and 4 seed not mattering much, the rooting is pretty straightforward. Root for the Chiefs and against the Raiders, and pray that either the Ravens or Patriots somehow lose enough to drop.
So instead this will just be the playoff picture, and since the seeding doesn’t matter much at this point, it’s really just the divisional race, and since the Chargers and Broncos are pretty much out of it, that really simplifies things.
Naturally how this game against the Raiders goes dramatically changes the picture. Personally I think it’s a slam dunk victory for the Chiefs, but it’s technically possible that the Raiders could win so we’ll cover both outcomes.
The Chiefs would not only be up 2 games, but would also have the tiebreaker, meaning the Raiders have to make up 3 games in the final 4.
There’s only 2 possibilities for that to happen:
- Raiders go 4-0, Chiefs go 1-3 or 0-4
- Raiders go 3-1, Chiefs go 0-4.
I think it’s safe to say that’s not going to happen (and if it did the Chiefs probably wouldn’t be good enough to be a real contender anyway), so that means it’s a de facto division championship.
But just to technical, the magic number would become 2. That’s 2 times that either the Chiefs win or Raiders lose and the Chiefs officially clinch.
This is where things get more complicated. We would both have identical 7-5 records, and the tiebreaker would be undetermined. In this case it’s possible both teams finish 2-2 and the Chiefs win the division, and it’s possible both teams finish 2-2 and the Raiders win the division.
The first tiebreaker is division record, which means record against the Broncos and Chargers. So far we both have one win against each and one game to go against each. So those 2 remaining divisional games would be the first thing to determine the tiebreaker.
But if we have the same record in those games, it then goes to common games. Since we have 2 games against each other, and 4 games in the division that we already tied, and 2 games not in common, that leaves the 8 games against the NFC North and AFC South.
The Chiefs are 3-4 in those games with Chicago left, while the Raiders are 3-3 with the Titans and Jaguars left. So they have a bit of an advantage here, but not as large as you might think.
Since by definition we finished those 4 games with the same record, and both had the same record in the 2 divisional games, that means we would also have the same record in those 2 remaining games. If that’s a 2-0 record then the Raiders would win the division, but if it was 1-1 we’d likely go to the next tiebreaker since that’s bring them to 4-4 in those games while our loss would more likely be against the Patriots with the win being against the Bears, bringing our record to the same 4-4. We would also tie if we went 0-2 in those games.
In short, the only way the Raiders win the tiebreaker here is if:
- Both go 2-0 in non-divisional games.
- Both go 1-1 in non-divisional games, with the Chiefs losing to the Bears and beating the Patriots.
We got to the next tiebreaker if:
- Both go 0-2 in non-divisional games.
- Both go 1-1 in non-divisional games, with the Chiefs losing to the Patriots and beating the Bears.
If the Chiefs lose to the Raiders, I’d say the second scenario is most likely.
The next tiebreaker is record in conference, but since we only have 4 games out of conference it’s easier to think of it as the team with the better record against the NFC, loses.
The Raiders went 2-2, while the Chiefs are at 2-1 with a game against the Bears pending. Since the team with the worse record against the NFC wins the tiebreaker, that means if we get to this point by the Chiefs beating the Bears then the Raiders win the tiebreaker. But if we get here by the Chiefs losing to the Bears then we go to the next tiebreaker.
So in scenario 1 above (same record against the division, 0-2 in other games) we would go to the next tiebreaker, but scenario 2 means the Raiders win the division.
But the next tiebreaker is strength of victory, and finally marks the end of the road for tiebreakers. It’s undetermined (since it depends on every team we’ve beaten, which is still dozens of games), but the Chiefs are currently in a much stronger position with a SOV of .487 compared to the Raider’s .326, and with neither team having many wins at this point that’s unlikely to change much.
Summary (Chiefs Lose):
- Whoever does better in the 2 remaining division games wins the tiebreaker.
- If equal division record, the Raiders win the tiebreaker unless both go 0-2 in non-divisional games, in which case the Chiefs almost certainly win the tiebreaker.
In short, we should just win this week and make it easy.