- Titans (8-3)
- Ravens (7-3)
- Patriots (7-4)
- Chiefs (7-4)
- Bengals (6-4)
- Chargers (6-4)
- Bills (6-4)
- Steelers (5-4-1)
- Colts (6-5)
- Browns (6-5)
- Raiders (5-5)
- Broncos (5-5)
Today we’ll be focusing on tiebreakers for the playoff picture, as they can be the most complicated and hardest to understand part of the playoff picture. The tiebreaker situation for the Chiefs is different within the division than it is for the race for the 1 seed. Let’s do the division first.
Chargers: Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker, so if the Chargers beat the Chiefs in Los Angeles they will have the tiebreaker. But if the Chiefs win that game it will then come down to division record, which would mean Broncos and Raiders games. Both the Chargers and Chiefs are 1-0 against those two teams so far, so the record in those final 3 will determine the tiebreaker. If that’s also a tie, the Chargers will get the tiebreaker, as they will have a better conference record.
Raiders: The situation is better against Vegas, as the Chiefs beat them the first time, meaning another victory gives them the tie. But the Raiders also lost to the Chargers, so it’d come down to the other division games where they’re currently even. Like the Chargers, if it gets past that point the Raiders will get the tie as they’d have a better conference record.
Broncos: With the Chiefs and Broncos having yet to play each other, obviously the tiebreaker is up in the air. If it’s split, it would be similar to the Raiders where the division record is currently tied (as they lost to the Raiders). This time the Chiefs might actually still be able to get the tiebreaker since the Broncos have also lost 3 conference games outside the division. The Chiefs have the Steelers and Bengals left, while the Broncos only have the Bengals. If it got past that it’d be strength of victory, which can obviously change a lot between now and the end of the year, but currently the Chiefs have a massive lead (.515 vs. .383).
In short, the division tiebreakers are a mess right now. We just haven’t had enough AFC West games yet.
Potential 1 Seed Tiebreakers
The situation when it comes to trying to get the top seed is much simpler.
Short version: The Chiefs won’t have a tiebreaker against anybody so don’t even bother to think about it.
Long version: The Chiefs lost to the Titans, Ravens, and Bills, meaning those 3 all have the tiebreaker. The Chiefs don’t play the Patriots, which means it comes down to conference record, which the Patriots would win. Technically the Chiefs could win it, but given that the Chiefs have 2 more AFC losses than the Patriots, New England would be at 11-6 at best in order for Kansas City to have the tiebreaker, and that’s probably not good enough to get the top seed anyway.
The best hope for the Chiefs to get the tiebreaker is a 3-way, in which case head-to-head only matters if one team beat all the other teams or if one team lost to all the other teams. But even then, the Chiefs likely lose, as they have a much worse conference record than everybody else.
If Mahomes wants to watch the wildcard round from his couch, he’ll need to do it the hard way (without tiebreakers).
- The rankings and interests are based solely on which outcomes benefit the Chiefs the most. So while some may root for the Bills to beat the Raiders because we hate the Raiders, from the Chiefs perspective it’s best for the Raiders to win and make it easier for the Chiefs to get the top seed.
- NFC vs. NFC matchups won’t be ranked. The only way they impact the Chiefs is if we get down to the 4th tiebreaker for playoff seeding (meaning head-to-head, win-loss record in conference games, and win-loss record in common games are all tied) in which case they factor into strength of victory and strength of schedule. Not only is this unlikely to be relevant, but even if it is, we already know to root for NFC East teams (since that’s who we play this year).
- The Chiefs game won’t be ranked because, duh, we root for the Chiefs to win, and it will always be our most important game.
- All AFC teams will be included until they’re 3 games back of us. At that point, they’re not enough of a threat to bother listing.
1: Patriots over Titans
Ugh, it sucks to root for the Patriots, but the reality is that they have a much tougher remaining schedule than the Titans, and we desperately need Tennessee to lose as many games as possible if we want the top seed. So go Pats! (puke)
2: Broncos over Chargers
None of these games have a clear interest, do they? The Chargers are clearly more of a threat, but I still don’t like the fact that a Broncos victory means the newly minted Sunday Night Football game between Denver and Kansas City will be for the division lead.
4: Browns over Ravens
3: Saints over Bills
The Bills are suddenly not a threat. Sure, if they win out (or only lose one more game) they could be a problem, but as it stands the Chiefs have already jumped them in the standings, so Baltimore is next in line. (Plus a Browns division titel would give us the tiebreaker over the NFC North winner).
6: Cowboys over Raiders
7: Buccaneers over Colts
7: Steelers over Bengals
None of these games really matter if the Chiefs are real contenders. The Raiders aren’t much threat in the division, and the Colts, Steelers, and Bengals are only a concern if we’re looking for a wildcard spot (in which case I wouldn’t like our chances of winning the Super Bowl anyway).