Chiefs Rooting Rankings (And Playoff Picture!): Week 11

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Arrowhead Guys tells you who to root for this week!

The NFL has returned, and not only will we be rooting for the Chiefs, but we will be rooting against those teams that stand in between us and another Super Bowl championship. This is the weekly piece where I rank exactly which teams we should be rooting against that maximize the Chiefs’ odds of reaching the final game of the season.

But first the rules.

Rules

  1. 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.
  2. 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 West teams (since that’s who we play this year).
  3. 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.
  4. I will continue to include AFC teams that are within 3 games of the Chiefs. If a team is more than 3 games back, we’ll assume they’re no longer a threat.

Rankings

1: Browns over Bills

2: Panthers over Ravens

3: Packers over Titans

4: Jets over Patriots

5: Steelers over Bengals

With the Chiefs playing the Chargers Sunday night the first order of business in the other games is keeping the Bills down. I will get into the weeds of our position to the other teams in the Playoff Picture below, but the Bills remain our top threat (at least for now, hopefully the Browns pull off the upset in Detroit).

Playoff Picture

Division

The primary objective of any regular season is to win the division, and the Chiefs can all but wrap it up with a win over the Chargers Sunday.

Chiefs Win: The Broncos and Raiders would essentially need to win out to have even a remote chance of passing the Chiefs (something neither of them look remotely capable of doing). The Chargers would remain the only threat, but the Chiefs would be up 3 games, with the tiebreaker, with 7 to go. San Diego Los Angeles would have to be 4 games better than the Chiefs over the last 7. That means even if they went undefeated the rest of the way they’d still need the Chiefs to lose more games than they win. Is it possible? Sure. But you’d be safe in planning your trip to Arrowhead for a playoff game.

To put that into further perspective, the Chiefs magic number would be 4. Meaning that in the 14 games the Chiefs and Chargers have remaining, the Chargers would need 11 of them to go their way.

Chiefs Lose: But if the Chiefs lose it becomes more interesting. The Chiefs would still be a game up, and they would probably have the tiebreaker, but it’s no sure thing. Meaning the Chargers would have to win 1 or 2 more games than the Chiefs in the remaining 7 weeks to pass us.

Whether it’s 1 or 2 depends on tiebreakers, which after head-to-head (which would be tied) are:

Divisional Record: The Chiefs have not lost a divisional game yet, while the Chargers have only lost to the Chiefs. So they are essentially tied here. The Chargers have a very slight advantage since they’ve played both the Raiders and Broncos while the Chiefs have only played the Raiders.

Common Games: Common games here means games against the AFC South and NFC West. The Chiefs have a big advantage here, as they’re 4-1 in these 8 games, while the Chargers are only 1-3. The Chargers would have to do 2.5 games better in these games just to tie this tiebreaker and move on to conference record. But notice how that’s more than the 2 games they needed to make up even if they lose the tiebreakers. If it comes to this the Chiefs will win the division.

In short, even if the Chiefs lose Sunday, they are still in great shape as long as they go 3-0 in their remaining division games. I’d go as far as to say that they’d still be strong favorites to win the division if they did that even if they went 1-3 in the other games (especially if that win was against the Rams, Texans, or Seahawks to boost that Common Games tiebreaker).

Conference

Tiebreakers: Since we’ll be talking the same tiebreakers for all of these teams, I’ll just list them at the top. They are:

  1. Head-to-Head
  2. Conference Record
  3. Common Games
  4. Strength of Victory

Plus some others, but it’s very unlikely to get past that point. I’ll only mention head-to-head and conference records here since common games get messy.

Bills: Buffalo looked to be in a very strong position coming out of their win in Kansas City. The Chiefs needed to win 2 more games than them over the rest of the season to pass them. Turns out that only took 3 weeks, as the Bills graciously lost to the Jets and Vikings. That makes the calculus easy. If the Chiefs do as well as the Bills from here on out, they won’t pass us. But if they do even 1 game better they will reclaim the top seed.

Dolphins: According to Vegas, the Bills are our biggest threat. But according to the standings, it’s the Dolphins, who are the only other AFC team with 7 wins going into week 11. They are a half game back with a bye this week. We don’t play them, so the first tiebreaker will be conference record, where we’ve both lost 2 (although they’ve won one more).

Ravens: The Ravens have quietly been keeping pace in the conference, as they’re a mere one game back of the Chiefs. There’s no head-to-head with the Chiefs this year, and they have identical 4-2 conference records, so if it comes down to this there’s still a lot of uncertainty.

Titans: Despite losing to the Chiefs, the Titans are still right in the thick of it at 7-3. But they have the disadvantage of losing the top tiebreaker, so they need to do 1.5 games better than the Chiefs the rest of the way. That seems unlikely to put it mildly.

(No, I’m not doing the Jets. I like them, but there’s no way Zach Wilson is going to make them a top seed.)

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NovaChiefs
11/18/2022 1:43 pm

Agree with all, and expect to go 1-4 + a Chiefs win

steve_chiefs
steve_chiefs
Reply to  NovaChiefs
11/18/2022 4:12 pm

last week for the Chiefs regards the standings was an awesome thing

probably not occuring this week

NovaChiefs
Reply to  steve_chiefs
11/18/2022 7:47 pm

Yeah, I’ll be happy holding serve this week

MasterChief
MasterChief
11/18/2022 1:05 pm

GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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