The Kansas City Chiefs came into Week 7 riding a five-game winning streak and aiming to extend it to six against their arch-rival Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon.
The Chiefs finished Week 6 on top of the AFC West as well as the AFC Playoff Picture. To this point, they haven't played their best on offense, but their defense has been lights out. Fortunately, the rest of the AFC West has not been serious contenders so far this season.
Through six weeks, the only other team in the AFC that's appeared to be a threat to the Chiefs has been the Miami Dolphins. Other than them, the Bills have been a roller-coaster, the Ravens lacked a win against a legitimately good team, and the Jaguars' slow start to the year has a lot of people questioning them.
Other teams, like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, and Cincinnati Bengals have looked like contenders at times, but all have lost multiple games and are not nearly as good as Kansas City and Miami. The Chiefs have had their issues on offense, but are red hot and have one of the best defenses in the NFL.
AFC Playoff Picture, Week 8
1. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1)
2. Miami Dolphins (5-2)
3. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2)
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
6. Cleveland Browns (4-2)
7. Buffalo Bills (4-3)
In the hunt: Houston Texans (3-3), New York Jets (3-3), Cincinnati Bengals (3-3), Indianapolis Colts (3-4), Las Vegas Raiders (3-4), Tennessee Titans (2-4), and Los Angeles Chargers (2-4).
The Week 7 Rundown
The Jaguars kicked off the week with a win in New Orleans on Thursday Night Football. The Browns escaped the Colts after a couple of shaky calls. The Ravens utterly dominated the Lions. The Raiders got blown out by Tyson Bagent and the Bears. The Steelers beat the Rams coming off their bye week. The Chiefs beat the Chargers thanks to dominant performances by Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. The Broncos squeaked by the Packers. The Dolphins lost to the Eagles on Sunday Night Football.
As of today, the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, and Jacksonville Jaguars are the only safe bets to make the playoffs. The Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, and Cleveland Browns have all had their moments but are also too inconsistent to be relied upon. The Pittsburgh Steelers have had their moments, but their offense is not good enough to scare any top teams in the NFL. The LA Chargers, New York Jets, and Cincinnati Bengals were expected to be contenders, but none have lived up to expectations.
The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts are nice stories but neither will likely be around when the playoff push arrives. Neither the Las Vegas Raiders nor Tennessee Titans are contenders for anything. The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos are both out of the race, despite winning in Week 7.
I'm still not ready to count out the Cincinnati Bengals. Their record may not be strong, but their recent history of strong finishes to the regular season and deep playoff runs is impossible to ignore. They're likely out of the race for the #1 seed, but they should be in the playoffs and as scary a team as any in the AFC. Joe Burrow appears to be back, plus coming out of their bye week, he should be even healthier.
The Bills are just way too inconsistent to be considered a threat to finish as the one seed. On their good days, they can beat anyone. On their bad days, they can lose to anyone. Their main issue is that their bad days are way too frequent. They lost to the lowly Patriots and should have lost to the Giants. They'll have their games where they're dominant, but they're not a threat to win the Super Bowl until they prove they can play consistent football.
The Dolphins have proven that they can dominate the lesser teams of the NFL, but they've had problems against competent squads. The Bills crushed them, the Chargers lit them, and the Eagles also had their way with them. They'll be a pain to deal with on offense, but the Chiefs are a better team than them.
AFC Playoff Odds
According to TeamRankings.com, the Chiefs are the strong favorites to land the #1 seed at 57%. After them are the Ravens at 13.2%, then the Dolphins at 11%, and the Bills at 5.7%. The Chiefs are also the significant favorites in the AFC to win Super Bowl LVIII (18%), followed by the Ravens (9%), Bills (8.3%), and Dolphins (5.4%).
This is the Chiefs' conference to lose. They have the best record and are also the only team in the AFC that has yet to lose to another team within the conference. Maybe things will change down the road, but expect Kansas City to finish the regular season atop the standings. Once the playoffs commence, anything can happen, but every who lives in reality knows the Chiefs are the favorites.
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