Breaking down the Kansas City Chiefs road map to the No. 1 seed

The Kansas City Chiefs control their destiny to the one-seed atop the AFC. They also have the easiest remaining schedule of the contenders. Let's dive into the scenarios and break down each of the potential one-seed pathways to the bye.

Philadelphia Eagles v Kansas City Chiefs
Philadelphia Eagles v Kansas City Chiefs / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

In a year with little margin for error for the Kansas City Chiefs, the one seed and an opportunity at their sixth straight home AFC Championship game is imperative. 

In past seasons, the Chiefs boasted perennial top-five offenses, which gave them the margin to overcome the sort of drops, penalties, and turnovers that have plagued them this year. Winning two playoff games rather than three sounds much more feasible with how their defense is playing, even with the offense ranking 11th in points scored per game this season. 

It is a well-known fact at this point that the Chiefs lead the league in drops. Bet MGM has the Chiefs at 30, and some sites have them listed at less, but they all have the Chiefs leading the pack. Kansas City is also 25th in the NFL in turnovers and has given the ball away 19 times this season. They are 19th in the league in penalties accepted. 

No one is accusing the Chiefs of playing clean football and while defense travels well in January, the best path to back-to-back Super Bowls is hosting the annual Arrowhead Invitational. Let’s take a look and see how the Chiefs can claim the coveted No. 1 seed to receive the Wild Card round bye. 

How the Chiefs remain in control

Four strong contending teams are vying for the top spot: the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Miami Dolphins. All three teams have 3 losses apiece with the Ravens registering one more win than the others to date. However, their bye week is just now coming in week 13. 

Even if all four teams win the rest of their games, which is extremely unlikely, the Chiefs will control their own destiny and hold all the tiebreakers. They hold the head-to-head tiebreakers over the Jaguars and the Dolphins, thanks to their wins over those franchises in Weeks 2 and 9, respectively.

Since two of Kansas City’s three losses came against NFC teams, they currently have a better conference record than Baltimore as well, which would give them the edge. The Ravens are currently 6-3 against AFC opponents and the Chiefs are 6-1. 

If all three of the Chiefs' running mates drop a game or two, the Chiefs can afford to drop a game or two as well. The only way the Chiefs could be a two-seed with all four teams having the same record is if they lost two of their final five AFC games and the Ravens win the rest of theirs. 

Comparing the remaining strength of schedule

According to Tankathon, the Chiefs have the easiest remaining schedule of the four. Here is the remaining schedule breakdown for all four teams in order of the easiest remaining schedule to the toughest. 

Kansas City Chiefs 

  • Opponents with a .500 record or above: Buffalo Bills
  • Combined opponent win percentage: .397

Jacksonville Jaguars 

  • Opponents with a .500 record or above: Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns
  • Combined opponent win percentage: .448

Miami Dolphins

  • Opponents with a .500 record or above: Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills
  • Combined opponent win percentage: .507

Baltimore Ravens

  • Opponents with a .500 record or above: San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburg Steelers
  • Combined opponent win percentage: .655

As you can see, the toughest one the Chiefs have to stack up against could very well be the Jaguars. Just because Kansas City beat them head-to-head does not mean they cannot get hot with their remaining schedule. If the Chiefs drop a game unexpectedly, anything can happen. Many of these teams play each other, so rest assured, the Chiefs probably will not have to win the rest of their games to stake their claim atop the AFC once again. 

I think I speak for all of us that the last thing the Chiefs Kingdom wants is for the Bills to slip into the seventh seed while Kansas City falls to the second seed for a first-round Wild Card matchup. Not that the Chiefs would not be favored, but that would be a tough start to a four-game stretch. 

It would be highly beneficial to have a two-game stretch to the Super Bowl and get the bye so Andy Reid can work his magic. Either way, I like the Chiefs odds more than the field when you pair an elite defense with an all-time quarterback.

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