The winner will likely earn the #1 seed in the AFC
Many people have said that the winning team of this Sunday’s game will end up hosting the losing team once the playoffs roll around and I believe that analysis is very sound. The Bills and Chiefs are the only 4-1 teams in the conference, so the winner of this game will be 5-1, while every other team in the AFC is 4-2 or worse. The winner would also, of course, hold the tiebreaker over the other and essentially hold a two-game lead in the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
According to Five Thirty Eight (QB adjusted), heading into Week 6, Buffalo has a 49% chance to earn the #1 seed in the AFC, while Kansas City currently has a 31% chance to finish with the best record in the conference. The other 14 teams that aren’t the Bills or Chiefs have only a combined 20% chance to have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs in January. The winner on Sunday, no matter who it is, will likely see their odds climb to well over 50% and possibly even 60%.
The primary reason that earning the #1 seed is so important is that eight of the past ten AFC Champions played zero road playoff games en route to the Super Bowl that season. One of the main reasons that is the case is because home playoff games are much easier to win than road ones. Another reason why earning the top seed is important is due to the fact that the #1 seed doesn’t have to play on wild card weekend and only has to play two games (both at home) to reach the Super Bowl, rather than three, with likely 1-2 being on the road.
Whoever wins this game will have the upper hand for the rest of the regular season and may become (or remain) the favorite to win the Lamar Hunt Trophy on January 29th.