AFC Playoff Picture, Week 12: KC Chiefs fall from top of conference

How does the AFC playoff picture look after the 11th week of the NFL season and where do the KC Chiefs stack up?
Nov 20, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Nov 20, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Coming out of their Week 10 bye week, the Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in a heartbreaking Super Bowl LVII rematch.

Even though the loss on Monday was a tough pillow to swallow, fans need to keep everything in perspective as the team is still a lock to make the playoffs, host multiple playoff games, and potentially even earn the number one seed. They have serious questions surrounding their pass-catchers but they're 7-3 and still one of the favorites to win Super Bowl LVIII.

Despite not playing last week, the Week 10 slate was very beneficial for the Chiefs as several of their top AFC rivals lost, providing them an increased margin of error for the last month and a half of the season.

Heading into Week 11, a single game was separating Kansas City and the next five playoff teams. Fortunately, the Chiefs hold the tiebreaker over every other divisional winner.

AFC playoff picture, Week 12

1. Baltimore Ravens (8-3)

2. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3)

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3)

4. Miami Dolphins (7-3)

5. Cleveland Browns (7-3)

6. Houston Texans (6-4)

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)

In the hunt: Buffalo Bills (6-5), Indianapolis Colts (5-5), Denver Broncos (5-5), Las Vegas Raiders (5-6), Los Angeles Chargers (4-6), and New York Jets (4-6).

The Ravens beat the Bengals on Thursday Night Football, but Joe Burrow and Mark Andrews were lost for the season. The Dolphins escaped the Raiders, handing Antonio Pierce his first loss as interim head coach. The Browns topped the Steelers in the battle of bad offenses. The Jaguars bounced back with win over the Titans.

The Bills crushed the Jets in the first game after firing Ken Dorsey. The Texans beat the Cardinals despite three interceptions by C.J. Stroud. The Chargers were upset by the Packers despite an excellent performance by Justin Herbert. The Broncos barely beat the Josh Dobbs-led Vikings. The Chiefs lost to the Eagles at home after a dismal performance by their pass-catchers.

Although they stumbled to the #2 seed in Week 11, the Chiefs are still in a solid position to earn the #1 seed. They have the head-to-head tiebreakers over the Jaguars and Dolphins. They also have a much better conference record than the Ravens (5-1 to 5-3), so Kansas City will likely hold the tiebreaker at season's end. The Chiefs also have a game in hand over Baltimore since they haven't had their bye week yet. No one else is a real threat to finish ahead of them in the standings. But if they can't figure it out on offense, their seed may not end up mattering.

The true contenders in the AFC are the Chiefs, Ravens, Jaguars, Dolphins, and maybe the Bills (if they can solve their turnover problems and work around their injuries on defense). The Browns, Steelers, and Texans aren't relevant and no one else will likely even make the playoffs.

According to Team Rankings, the Chiefs remain the favorites to land the #1 seed at 34.3%. After them are the Ravens at 24.8%, then the Browns at 16.7%, the Dolphins at 11.1%, and finally the Jaguars at 9.8%. The Ravens are the slight favorites in the AFC to win Super Bowl LVIII at 13.8%. The Chiefs are right behind them at 12.9%. They're both followed by the Dolphins (6.0%) Browns (5.0%), Bills (3.8%), and the Jaguars (3.5%).

This is likely the weakest the AFC will be around the Chiefs for a long time. There's no true threat and the depth of high-level talent isn't the same as in recent years. If Kansas City fails to make the AFC Championship this year (barring an injury), it will be an utter failure. Their defense and quarterback are just that good, but will their pass-catchers hold them back?