AFC Playoff Picture, Week 9: Chiefs momentum comes to a sudden halt

How does the AFC playoff picture look after the eighth week of the NFL season and where do the KC Chiefs stack up?
Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The Kansas City Chiefs came into Week 8 in the midst of a six-game winning streak, but that streak came to a sudden halt against the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon.

The Chiefs finished Week 7 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 they figured it out last week and their defense has been awesome so far. Fortunately, the rest of the AFC West has not been good, so they likely won't have to worry about clinching the division late in the season.

Through seven 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 Miami, the Bills, Ravens, and Jaguars have all been wildly inconsistent.

Other playoff contenders like the Steelers and Browns are not good enough on offense to be threats in the playoffs. The Chargers and Jets have failed to meet expectations. The Bengals may not have a strong record but they shouldn't be counted out. The Chiefs may not have been perfect so far, but they're clearly the best team in the AFC.

Through Week 8 of the regular season, here is what the AFC Playoff Picture look like:

1. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)

2. Miami Dolphins (6-2)

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-2)

4. Baltimore Ravens (6-2)

5. Buffalo Bills (5-3)

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

7. Cleveland Browns (4-3)

In the hunt: New York Jets (4-3), Cincinnati Bengals (4-3), Houston Texans (3-4), Tennessee Titans (3-4), Los Angeles Chargers (3-4), Indianapolis Colts (3-5), Las Vegas Raiders (3-5), and Denver Broncos (3-5).

The Bills kicked off Week 8 with a victory over Tampa Bay. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots at home. The Jets beat their stadium roommates in overtime after allowing -9 net passing yards. The Jaguars crushed the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Titans beat the Falcons in Will Levis' debut. The Texans fell to Carolina on the road. The Colts blew a 10-point lead to the Saints and lost. The Browns lost to Seattle after allowing a last-minute touchdown.

The Chiefs lost an embarrassing game to the Broncos. The Ravens beat the Cardinals after a three-touchdown game from Gus Edwards. The Bengals went on the road and handed the 49ers their third-straight loss. The Chargers crushed the Tyson Bagent-led Bears on Sunday Night Football. The Raiders fell to the Lions on Monday Night Football after a dismal performance by Jimmy Garappolo.

The AFC is a total mess at the top. All four division leaders are 6-2 and the Chiefs currently hold the #1 seed by virtue of strength of victory. Every team in the conference has at least one embarrassing defeat.

In my opinion, Kansas City is still the best team in the conference, but it has a fatal flaw. Their wide receiver room is a liability. Rashee Rice and Justin Watson are nice pieces but neither are 100% reliable for various reasons. Everyone cannot be counted on whatsoever. The Chiefs either need to adapt or make a move of some kind.

After the Chiefs, the Dolphins have a potent offense, the Ravens are well-balanced, the Jaguars and Bengals are both heating up, and the Bills are always dangerous. If Aaron Rodgers can miraculously return this season, the Jets can be interesting. Other than those teams, no one else is a threat to make a deep postseason run.

According to Team Rankings, the Chiefs remain the favorites to land the #1 seed at 31.2%. After them are the Ravens at 22.2%, then the Dolphins at 18.9%, and the Jaguars at 12.4%. The Chiefs are also the favorites in the AFC to win Super Bowl LVIII (12.7%), followed by the Ravens (10.2%), Bills (8.8%), and Dolphins (7.8%).

Despite a disappointing loss, the Chiefs are still the favorite in the AFC. That may not last long but it is still true as of today. They need to clean some things up. Their run defense needs to improve, they need to become more balanced on offense, and their wide receivers need to step up. They have a huge showdown against the Dolphins in Germany. That game will tell us a lot about this team.