AFC Playoff Picture, Week 16: KC Chiefs get back in win column

How does the AFC playoff picture look after the 15th week of the NFL season and where do the KC Chiefs stack up?

Dec 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Dec 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs traveled up to New England looking to end a two-game losing streak and that's exactly what they did. Despite a less-than-ideal start to the game. the team pulled away and defeated the Patriots 27-17.

Although the Chiefs (yet again) made several dumb mistakes, including multiple turnovers, there were a fair amount of positives. First, the defense surrendered only 57 yards in the second half. Second, the offense moved the ball with success throughout the game against a very good Patriots defense.

Even after they lost to Buffalo in Week 14, K.C. stood pat as the #3 seed, but where are they now after their win over the Patriots?

AFC playoff picture, Week 16

1. Baltimore Ravens (11-3)

2. Miami Dolphins (10-4)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6)

5. Cleveland Browns (9-5)

6. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)

In the hunt: Houston Texans (8-6), Buffalo Bills (8-6), Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7), and Denver Broncos (7-7).

The Raiders demolished the Chargers on Thursday Night Football 63-21, which resulted in coach Brandon Staley and GM Tom Telesco being fired the next day. The Bengals came back to beat the Vikings in overtime. The Colts overcame a 13-0 to beat the Steelers. The Broncos were walloped by the Lions 42-17. The Browns defeated the Bears after a failed hail mary by Chicago.

The Chiefs ended their slide against the Patriots. The Dolphins shut out the Jets at home. The Texans squeaked past the Titans in overtime. The Bills dominated the Cowboys to earn their second straight win. The Ravens beat the Jaguars on Sunday Night Football after Jacksonville missed two field goals and lost two fumbles.

The one saving grace for the Chiefs this season is that the rest of the AFC is extremely beatable. There's not a single team within their conference that Kansas City is incapable of defeating in a playoff game. The Ravens have had issues in the playoffs with Lamar Jackson, the Dolphins' offense folds against competent teams, the Jaguars aren't scary at all, and the Bills are always a roller coaster who love shooting themselves in the foot.

If the Kansas City defense can play like it has all season in the playoffs, the offense would likely only need to score 20 points to win, something they've done 13 of 14 playoff games with Patrick Mahomes. The issue is that this year's offense has hit the 20-point mark in only eight of 14 games. The 1-seed is likely out of the picture, but they can beat any team on any field if they can limit the mistakes.

According to Team Rankings, the Ravens are the clear favorites to land the #1 seed at 68.3%. After them are the Dolphins at 20.8%, and finally the Chiefs at 8.6%. The Ravens are also favorites to win Super Bowl LVIII in the AFC at 18.4%. They're followed by the Dolphins (9.7%), Chiefs (8.9%), and the Bills (5.9%).

Even though they win in Week 15, it's now clear that the Chiefs aren't figuring it out on offense this season. They're good enough to score around 20-24 points on pretty much every defense in the NFL, but anything more is likely too much to ask for. They also make too many errors for how limited their offense is. If they cut down on the turnovers, drops, and penalties, they can beat anyone in the NFL en route to another Lombardi Trophy.