AFC playoff picture, Week 16: KC Chiefs earn 12th win
In Week 16, the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets met on Thursday Night Football. The Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans squared off in Nashville. The Cincinnati Bengals traveled to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots. The Buffalo Bills played the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Seahawks went on the road to play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead, and the Baltimore Ravens played host to the Atlanta Falcons.
The Cleveland Browns saw the New Orleans Saints come to town. The Miami Dolphins played the Packers at home. The Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers face off on the anniversary of the Immaculate Reception. The Denver Broncos play the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Day. The Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts finish off the week on Monday Night Football.
Here is what the AFC Standings look like after Week 16:
Before the start of Week 16, the Bills were the favorites to come out of the AFC and advance to Super Bowl LVII. FiveThirtyEight (QB Adjusted) had the Bills as the team with the best chance to win the Super Bowl out of all teams in the AFC, with a 20% chance to win it all before Week 16. After Buffalo, the Chiefs were at 19%, the Bengals were at 9%, and the Baltimore Ravens were at 3%.
Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars cruised past the Zach Wilson-led Jets. The Texans upset the Tennessee Titans sans Ryan Tannehill. The Bengals survived the Patriots’ comeback attempt. The Bills pulled away from the Bears late in the game. The Chiefs beat the Seahawks after a solid performance on defense. The Ravens earned their second win with Tyler Huntley over the Falcons. The Browns fell to the Saints at home. The Steelers came back to beat the Raiders on the anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception”. The Dolphins fell to the Packers at home on Christmas Day. The Broncos ruined their fans’ Christmas with a blowout loss against the Rams. The Chargers topped the Colts to close out Week 16.
The Jaguars could be a surprise playoff as they control their own destiny in the AFC South, while Zach Wilson’s destiny seems to be playing for a team other than the Jets in 2023. The Titans proved that they needed a healthy Ryan Tannehill in order to compete, while the Texans played their third straight competitive game. The Bengals were sloppy in the second half on offense and the Patriots blew a golden opportunity to get back in the AFC wild-card race. The Bills now face a showdown in Cincinnati next week.
Hopefully, Saturday was the start of something positive for the Chiefs’ defense. The Ravens are back in the playoffs and could be dangerous with Lamar Jackson back. The Browns are now onto 2023 with their Week 16 defeat. Saturday Night proved how great of a coach Mike Tomlin is, while that night also proved that the Raiders may need to move on Derek Carr this offseason.
Tua Tagovailoa is beginning to turn into a pumpkin late in the season. Nathaniel Hackett officially sealed his fate with the Broncos after the Christmas Day massacre. The Chargers have clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2018 and the Colts just keep sinking to a lower level.
After Week 16, seven teams in the AFC have a winning record and nine teams have a losing record, and two teams are at exactly 0.500. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Bills are the team with the best chance to win the Super Bowl in the AFC with a 20% chance to win it all. After Buffalo, the Chiefs are at 18%, the Cincinnati Bengals are at 10%, and the Ravens are at 3%.
In the race for the #1 seed in the AFC, per FiveThirtyEight, the Bills still have the best chance to finish atop the conference in the regular season standings at 47%, with the Chiefs second at 40%. After Kansas City/Buffalo, the Bengals are at 12%.
It’s abundantly clear that Buffalo, Kansas City, and Cincinnati are the class of the AFC. The odds of another team stepping up and advancing to Super Bowl LVII are reasonably low. If the Chiefs want to win the Super Bowl, they have to start cleaning up their issues and Saturday was a great start. Ideally, they win out and Cincinnati beats Buffalo in Week 17. If that holds true, the Chiefs would then hold their own destiny in the quest for the #1 seed in the AFC.