The K.C. Chiefs have had a rough start to the season, going 4-4 through eight weeks. But as bad as a 4-4 record may look, the Chiefs are surprisingly not that far behind in the standings.
Within the AFC West, the Chiefs are technically tied for last place in the division, but they are actually only one game back from first place since the Las Vegas Raiders lead the division with a 5-2 record. All four teams in the division have at least four wins right now, which means the division crown is still very much in reach.
The Broncos are showing themselves to be a flash in the pan, going 1-4 after starting 3-0. The Chargers are tough and hold half the tiebreaker over the Chiefs, but they are also experiencing growing pains. And the Raiders lost their head coach and their top wide receiver—two things that will eventually make an impact on the field, not to mention the impact it has no doubt made in the locker room.
Despite their 4-4 record, the K.C. Chiefs are only one game back in the division and two games back in the AFC.
If we pan out even farther to take in the entire conference, we see much of the same in the AFC. The Chiefs are technically only one game back from almost every other team ahead of them for the #1 seed in the conference. The only team with a two-game lead is the Tennessee Titans.
That is both good and bad. The bad is that the Titans thoroughly whooped the Chiefs in Week 7, which gives them the tiebreaker. But, the Titans also lost all-world running back Derrick Henry for (probably) the rest of the season. That injury will no doubt set the Titans back some giving the rest of the AFC to catch up.
How can the Chiefs be seemingly so “bad” while also in a good spot in the standings? The AFC has become an absolute free-for-all this season, with every team in the conference saddled with two or more losses. Usually, by mid-season, the top teams have distanced themselves like we are seeing in the NFC, where the Cowboys, Cardinals, Rams, and Packers all only have 1 loss.
On the AFC side, there are three teams with only 1 win and the New York Jets with 2. Assuming the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, and Gang Green can all be safely eliminated from contention, we are left with a whopping 12 teams at midseason competing for the coveted seven playoff spots. Of those 12, 10 of them are still within 1 or 2 games of the #1 & #2 seeds. Even the 3-5 Colts aren’t totally out of it yet.
This wide-open conference gives the Chiefs some breathing room when it comes to their very difficult end-of-season schedule. If they work out the kinks in the system they could be poised to go on a run that sets them up well for the #1 seed. But, even if they falter a few times, there is a good chance that a 10 or 11 win season, while disappointing, might be enough to clinch a Wild Card.