The Kansas City Chiefs clinched the AFC West title a week ahead of schedule and now they face some interesting questions heading into Week 17.
As I sat here drinking my AFC West victory beer beers, I got to thinking about who the Chiefs might play in the playoffs. Given the situation, the Chiefs could, maybe, technically, choose who they want to play in the first round of the playoffs and beyond.
Basically the Chiefs are either going to be the 3rd or 4th seed in the playoffs. If they win next week when the play the Raiders, they will guarantee themselves the #3 seed. That means they will host the #6 seed, which is certain to be the New York Jets.
If the Chiefs really like their chances against the Jets, then they can send their starters out on Sunday and do everything they can to beat the Raiders while trying to avoid injuries.
More stuff that will make you go cross-eyed after the jump.
But what if the Chiefs don’t want to play the Jets? If that is the case, the Chiefs could increase their chances of “losing” to the Raiders by “resting” their players. You see, if the Chiefs lose next week and the Indianapolis Colts win, the Colts would be the #3 seed based on their head to head victory over the Chiefs.*
That would mean the Chiefs, as the #4 seed, would play the #5 seed, which will be whatever team doesn’t win the AFC North. At this point, the Steelers are going to Cleveland and the Ravens will host the Texans. Chances are both of those teams will win. If that happens, the Chiefs would host the Ravens. KC would, however, run the risk of having to host the Steelers should Pittsburgh fall in Cleveland and the Ravens win vs. Tennessee and I doubt the Chiefs would want to see the Steelers in the first round.
*If the Colts lose and the Jaguars win, the Jags will be the AFC South champs and the Chiefs will be the #3 seed regardless of what happens at Arrowhead based on their head to head victory over Jacksonville.
If the Chiefs were keen on choosing their opponents, they would also be able to factor in which team they would meet in the divisional round as well. The Patriots and Steelers are the #1 and #2 seeds respectively (as long as the Steelers win in Cleveland), meaning they will each play at home in the divisional round. If the Chiefs are the #4 seed and they win in the wild card round, they will have to head on the road to take on the New England Patriots. If they are the #3 seed, they will have to face the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pick your poison, right?
The problem with the Chiefs entering the playoffs as the #4 seed is that they could only host the AFC Championship if the #6 seed (Jets) win their first two playoff games. However, if the Chiefs are the #3 seed, the Chiefs would host either the #4 or the #6 seed should that team make it to the championship.
In short, if the Chiefs make it to the AFC Championship game and they are the #3 seed, they will host the Colts should Indianapolis they make it that far. However if the Chiefs enter as the #4 seed and the Colts make the championship, the Chiefs will have to go to Indianapolis.
In my opinion, KC’s best bet is to try to secure the #3 seed by beating the Raiders. I think they have a pretty good shot to beat the Jets at Arrowhead. Should they do that, they’ll face the tall task of beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh (as long as the Steelers in in Cleveland) but winning on the road in New England wouldn’t be any easier. The only difference is that should the Patriots stumble along the way, the Chiefs would get to come home to Arrowhead.
What do you think Addicts? Should the Chiefs try to control their playoff schedule or should they just try to keep winning until there is no one left to beat? Do you think a slate of vs. Jets, @Pittsburgh is easier than vs. Ravens, @Patriots?