Should The Chargers Stumble
The Kansas City Chiefs have a clear if not difficult path to the AFC West Championship. The need merely to beat the Broncos at home this Sunday, take out the Chargers on the road the following week and win only one of their last three games to clinch the division.
Easier said than done.
Yet in most Chiefs playoff scenarios, it is assumed that Chargers will win out the rest of the way and that KC’s only hope of stopping them is to do it themselves on December 12th. That is the way it seems on paper anyway.
Fortunately for the Chiefs, the games aren’t played on paper and the Chargers still have to face off against five other NFL teams other than KC this season. This has led me to ask myself how a Chargers loss this weekend to the Oakland Raiders would affect the division race.
I’ll break it down after the jump.
The Raiders are injured and playing like crap. The Chargers are injured and are playing like a Super Bowl contender and if that wasn’t enough, they’ll be at home.
The Raiders are toast, right?
Not necessarily. Division games are never a gimme and the Raiders have played pretty good football at times. They have a talented secondary to counter Philip Rivers and if they can get their running game going they have a shot to control the tempo of the game. They also have a huge x-factor in rookie sensation Jacoby Ford. Chiefs fans know all too well how explosive Ford can be as he single handedly defeated the Chiefs in Oakland. If Ford gets going, especially in the return game against a pitiful SD special teams unit, the Chargers could find themselves in a hole too big to climb out of.
If the Chargers lose, they’ll drop to 6-6. We’re going to assume that the Chiefs take care of business at home against Denver and move to 8-4.
What does this change for the Chiefs?
Even if the Chargers lose to the Raiders this weekend, KC’s easiest path to winning the division will still be to finish off the Chargers themselves on December 12th.
What a Charger loss this weekend does mean is that the Chiefs can lose to the Chargers and still win the division but only if they win out and finish 11-5. That would mean three straight victories over the Rams, Titans and Raiders.
You see the first tiebreaker for a Chiefs, Chargers tie is head to head, followed by division record. If the Chargers lose to the Raiders, beat the Chiefs and win out, they will finish with a 3-3 record in the AFC West. If the Chiefs beat Denver but then lose to San Diego, tying the Chargers in any capacity would spell t heir doom.
After the Chargers game, the Chiefs play the Rams, Titans and the Raiders. A loss to the Raiders would drop KC to 2-4 in the division and they would lose the 10-6 tiebreaker via AFC West record.
Losing to either the Rams or the Titans but beating the Raiders would still screw the Chiefs. They’d finish 10-6 in a tie with the Chargers. Both would have the same division record of 3-3 and so the tiebreaker would move to the best record among common opponents. A loss to either the Rams or the Titans would give the Chargers the edge in that category as well.
So there you have it. Even a Raiders victory over the Chargers this weekend doesn’t really change things for the Chiefs. They either have to beat or tie the Chargers in San Diego or hope that the Chargers lose one more time in which case the Chiefs must finish 11-5.
If the Kansas City Chiefs want the AFC West crown, they’re going to have to go to San Diego and take it and really, that’s how it should be.