Kansas City Chiefs Still Outsiders For AFC West Title

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The combination of the Kansas City Chiefs’ fifth win in six games, coupled with the Denver Broncos’ blowout loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday brought the Chiefs to within one game of the Broncos. But the advanced metrics from Foobtball Outsiders say the Chiefs still have a long way to climb if they want to be AFC West champions.

Football Outsiders updated their playoff odds to reflect the results from this past weekend, and it brought some good and bad news for Chiefs fans. Let’s start with the good news.

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According to the site, the Chiefs have the sixth best odds in the AFC to make the playoffs at 54.4 percent. Their 34.1 percent chance of earning a wild-card spot are the best odds of any AFC team. And when it comes to seeding, Kansas City’s best odds are to end up with the five seed, which would mean the Chiefs would get to play the worst division champion in the AFC. That looks like it will be either Pittsburgh, Baltimore or Cincinnati. I’d rather play one of those three teams than play Indianapolis again.

One would imagine that if the Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, then they will have propelled themselves into a really good position when it comes to solidifying a playoff berth. They’ll own some critical tie-breakers over the Bills and Dolphins, which would be huge. And as the AFC North beats each other up and the Chargers keep tumbling (their second half schedule is brutal), Kansas City’s chances will continue to improve.

Bad news comes in the form of a potential division title. Denver has a 77.1 percent chance of winning the AFC West based on FO’s 50,000 simulations of the remainder of the season. Kansas City’s chances sit at 20.3 percent, which means the Chiefs have a 1-in-5 chance of taking the division crown.

What’s crazy is that the Broncos are still the favorites to end up with the number one seed in the AFC after all of those simulations. This may be because the Patriots are about to go on a run where they play at the Colts, vs. the Lions, at the Packers, at a desperate Chargers team (plus the flying from east coast to west coast thing), and vs. the Dolphins. There could very easily be two losses in those three road games.

There is no way of knowing how all of this is going to shake out. [Insert one of the following clichés here: ‘Any given Sunday’ ‘Games are not played on paper or in computers’ ‘That’s why the games are played’], right? But if you’re trying to figure out what the expectation should be for the Chiefs after their 5-3 start, making the playoffs has to be the target. After reassessing the season, assuming decent health, the Chiefs need to make the playoffs. Period.