Kansas City Chiefs Playoff Odds Solidifying
By Ben Nielsen
How big was Sunday’s come from behind win over the Buffalo Bills? According to Football Outsiders, it was borderline season-changing.
The Kansas City Chiefs odds of making the playoffs improved by nearly 20% according to FO’s formula for determining such things. FiveThirtyEight.com suggested Sunday’s game was the difference between the Chiefs having a tw0-in-three chance of making the playoffs or a one-in-three chance, so it shouldn’t be too surprising FO considered Sunday’s game to be a big one for the Chiefs.
With seven games remaining, the Chiefs have a 74.1% chance of making the playoffs with most of that opportunity coming in the form of a wild card berth. There is still an outside shot of the Chiefs making the playoffs as the AFC West champions, FO actually bumps their odds to about 20% this week, but it would still require the Chiefs to probably win-out the rest of the season to make it happen.
On a less analytical front, the Chiefs chances of getting to the playoffs improved not only with the win against Buffalo but with some of the help they received around the league. Pittsburgh utterly collapsed against a hapless New York Jets team and the Miami Dolphins were not able to to pull off an upset of the Detroit Lions. The result is two major competitors for the wild card spot slipping further behind the Chiefs.
Here’s the standings situation as of today:
As of this week, the Chiefs hold tie-breakers over the Chargers, Bills, and Dolphins. Buffalo and Miami play on Thursday night, a game in which the loser is probably out of the playoff picture because they’ll behind so many teams with only six games remaining.
This brings us to why the Seattle game could be huge for the Chiefs as a chance to be proactive in the playoff race. A win Sunday doesn’t earn the Chiefs any tie-breakers and it also hurt them much should they lose for the same reasons. But a win would give the Chiefs a 7-3 record with six games remaining. Two of those games are against the Oakland Raiders, and two games are against current wild card challengers so the Chiefs could add more tie-breaking advantages. If KC beat Seattle and then finished the season with two wins against Oakland and a win over Pittsburgh, then the odds heavily favor the Chiefs making the playoffs.
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Lose to Seattle, and the Chiefs are in a position where they need to win four of their last six to get to the magic ’10-win’ number. Good news for Kansas City is that even with a loss to Seattle their are four winnable game remaining on the schedule – Oakland twice, at Pittsburgh, and San Diego at home. Some may argue the road game in Arizona just become winnable after the injury to Carson Palmer, and other will point out beating Denver at home is doable given the way the Chiefs played the Broncos in Denver.
What a win over Seattle would do is increase the margin of error for the Chiefs as well as potentially open the door for a chance at the AFC West. Beat Seattle and take care of business on the road in Oakland then the Sunday Night Football game at Arrowhead against the Broncos could be for all of the AFC West marbles. Lose to Seattle and the AFC West is pretty much locked up for the Broncos – not completely, but pretty much locked down.
In summary: Beat Seattle and new doors open to the Chiefs. Lose to Seattle and the margin of error shrinks by a small margin and the AFC West is likely done.