The Kansas City Chiefs are on top of the AFC for the first time this season after an exhilarating 34-28 overtime win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night. Patrick Mahomes connected with Travis Kelce on a 34-yard touchdown pass to clinch a crucial win in L.A. that lifts the Chiefs to the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Kansas City’s move into the top seed caps off what has been a remarkable turnaround this season. The Chiefs were 3-4 after an embarrassing loss to the Titans, and at that point the number one seed seemed totally out of reach. But a seven-game winning streak has seen Kansas City rocket up the standings all the way to first in the AFC.
The stakes were high ahead of Thursday night’s game. A loss would have seen the Chargers take over first place in the West and would have dropped K.C. down to a Wild Card spot, essentially eliminating them from the race for the No. 1 seed in the process.
A look at the AFC playoff picture and standings after Thursday Night Football.
Kansas City’s win means they have opened up a two-game lead over the Chargers in the West with three games remaining, leaving the Chiefs firmly in the driver’s seat to claim their sixth consecutive AFC West title. Crucially, the win also means that L.A. no longer holds the tiebreaker over KC. The Chiefs now also have a three-game lead over the Broncos and a four-game lead over the Raiders, with both those sides still to play this weekend.
But while the Chiefs hold the No. 1 seed for now, they might not after this weekend. Both New England and Tennessee will move ahead of Kansas City in the standings if they win on the weekend. Tennessee holds the tiebreaker over K.C. thanks to their win in Week 7, while New England boasts the best conference record. However, wins for both those teams this weekend are far from a sure thing. The Patriots face a difficult test on the road against Indianapolis (7-6), while the Titans will take on the Steelers (6-6-1) in Pittsburgh. Looking further down the road, New England will face the Bills (7-6), Jaguars (2-11) and Dolphins (6-7), while Tennessee will take on the 49ers (7-6), Dolphins and Texans (2-11).
The Chargers were the toughest game remaining on Kansas City’s schedule, with things getting easier from here with games against the Steelers, Bengals (7-6) and Broncos (7-6) to end the season.The Chargers meanwhile will play the Texans, Broncos and Raiders (6-7) but seem destined to finish in a Wild Card spot, with L.A. needing a monumental collapse from the Chiefs to win the division.
The AFC Playoff Picture as things stand: (*Division winner)
1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)*
2. New England Patriots (9-4)*
3. Tennessee Titans (9-4)*
4. Baltimore Ravens (8-5)*
5. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5)
6. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
7. Buffalo Bills (7-6)
8. Cleveland Browns (7-6)
9. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)
10.Denver Broncos (7-6)
11.Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1)
AFC West standings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
2. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5)
3. Denver Broncos (7-6)
4. Las Vegas Raiders (6-7)