- Titans (8-2)
- Bills (6-3)
- Ravens (6-3)
- Chiefs (6-4)
- Patriots (6-4)
- Steelers (6-3-1)
- Bengals (5-4)
- Chargers (5-4)
- Raiders (5-4)
- Colts (5-5)
- Browns (5-5)
- Broncos (5-5)
With 7 games left in the regular season (the season feels like it just started…) it’s about time to start looking at the playoff picture. And for the Chiefs there’s two main areas of concern.
Making the Playoffs (Winning the Division/Getting a Wildcard)
The first order of business is making the playoffs, and after a slow start the Chiefs fortunately had a couple good weeks in a row to put them atop the division standings. And conveniently for this article the other AFC West teams are the first ones out of the wildcard, so winning the division and getting a wildcard are pretty much the same thing (i.e. if we’re good enough to get a wildcard, we’ll be good enough to win the division). So let’s ignore the wildcard for now and focus on the division.
We’re currently half a game up on the Chargers and Raiders, but that’s a very different half game since we beat the Raiders and lost to the Chargers. We’re in a solid spot to win the division, but we probably need to beat the Chargers in Los Angeles if we want to be sure of it.
But overall it’s looking more and more like it’s one of those years where if the Chiefs don’t win the division they didn’t deserve to make the playoffs anyways and weren’t real contenders. We’d be better off with the higher draft picks if we struggle that badly the rest of the way.
Getting the 1 Seed
While the Bills and Ravens are an issue in theory, in reality it’s the Titans that will stand between the Chiefs and the only seed that matters.
Since the Titans have the tiebreaker, the Chiefs will need to win 3 more games than the Titans over the last 7. That’s going to be tough since the Titans may not even lose 3 more games the rest of the year. The Chiefs will likely need to win out if they want any hope of getting that top seed, and even then it may not be enough.
- 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: Texans over Titans
We need the Titans to lose a lot of games, so they’ll be at the top of the list until the top seed is out of reach (or I guess if they lose a lot they may fall completely out).
2: Steelers over Chargers
Other than getting the top seed the playoff seeding doesn’t matter that much outside just making the playoffs. Given the current situation the Chargers are the main threat to the Chiefs not making the playoffs, so them losing is always nice.
3: Colts over Bills
4: Bears over Ravens
5: Browns over Lions
If the Chiefs do well enough down the stretch to pass the Titans it’s unlikely the Ravens or Bills will be a problem despite their tiebreakers, but as they say better safe than sorry. The Browns are listed here since, if they win the AFC North, gives the Chiefs an extra boost since we’ve beaten them but lost to Baltimore.
6: Bengals over Raiders
7: Falcons over Patriots
The Bengals, Raiders, and Patriots are all theoretically an issue for the Chiefs, but in reality it’s highly unlikely any of them will be the difference between the Chiefs and a playoff spot.