The AFC playoff picture continues to unfold as January approaches, with many playoff scenarios still up for grabs in week 17.
The AFC playoff picture is coming into view.
The regular season is coming to an end, and much like a good anime, the stage has been set for the finale. The villian (New England) has been up to their normal nefarious ways, the arena has been set for the battles (Baltimore secures home field advantage), and despite having some extremely low moments throughout the story arc, the hero (The Kansas City Chiefs) look as powerful as they have ever looked.
Sadly, the Chiefs will not be ending the regular season with the number one seed like last year. With a win on Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens have secured the 1 seed and home field advantage through the playoffs. Sad? Sure, but the Ravens’ home field is no Arrowhead, and the Chiefs’ have been great on the road with a 7-1 record on the road this year (tied for best in the league).
CHIEFS BEST CASE SCENARIO
A first round bye is still not out of the question for the Chiefs as they managed to keep pace with the New England Patriots in Week 16. The Buffalo Bills failed to knock off the New England Patriots at Gillette, locking themselves into the 5 seed and letting the Patriots hold onto the 2 seed for one more week.
Fortunately for the Chiefs, there is one more game for the Patriots, with another AFC East opponent set to visit Foxborough. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, that team is the Miami Dolphins.
The Miami Dolphins have actually caused the Pats to struggle in recent years, handing them unlikely and crazy losses (the Miami Miracle comes to mind). The Fins have forced a season split the last two years with the Pats, so recent history provides some hope. That said, this year’s Dolphins are an abysmal team and the Patriots won the first meeting of the season by 43 points.
With a New England loss and a Chiefs victory over the Chargers in Week 17, K.C. would secure a bye week to begin January and send the Patriots to play on Wild Card weekend. If not, the Chiefs are off to do the same.
CHIEFS WORST CASE SCENARIO
On the complete other end of the spectrum is the worst case scenarios for the Chiefs, where the fourth seed is still a possibility.
The Houston Texans have a matchup against the Tennessee Titans in Week 17 that is absolutely not a guaranteed win by any stretch of the imagination. The Titans are fighting tooth and nail for the 6 seed, and a win over the Texans would help secure that spot. But a Texans win could be much worse for the Chiefs.
With a win over the Titans and a Chiefs loss, the Texans can jump the Chiefs for the third seed and the chance to host the lowest rated team in the AFC. Right now, the No. 6 seed is still the Titans, but the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders still have a fighting chance. However if the Chiefs fell to No. 4, their opponent would already be set: the Buffalo Bills, in a game hosted at Arrowhead.
Some Chiefs fans might love the idea of skipping the Titans based on the problems they’ve caused the Chiefs before, but the Bills are no picnic in the first round led by one of the NFL’s toughest defenses (4th in defensive DVOA).
THE CURRENT PICTURE
1. Baltimore (13-2)
2. New England (12-3)
3. Kansas City (10-4)
4. Houston (10-5)
5. Buffalo (10-5)
6. Tennessee (8-7)