How Kansas City Chiefs can clinch a playoff spot in Week 17

Let's look at the ways the Chiefs can secure their postseason berth this coming weekend.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots
Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The steps at this point are pretty simple, since the Kansas City Chiefs are in control of their own destiny.

It might not have felt like it in recent days. Following the Chiefs' pathetic performance on offense last Sunday in a very winnable game against the Las Vegas Raiders that turned into an embarrassing home loss at Arrowhead on Christmas Day, Chiefs Kingdom's morale was about as low as you could. To zoom in on that week, it would have been easy to believe the Chiefs were actually out of the playoff hunt entirely.

Instead, the Chiefs are very much in it, and despite how they've played in the last month or more, they are still the defending Super Bowl champs. Every other team can talk as much as they want, but until K.C. is eliminated, the road to respect still runs through Kansas City.

So how can the Chiefs punch their postseason ticket? At 9-5, the Chiefs need to secure their 10th win in order to officially make the playoffs. Such a win on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, who are visiting Arrowhead, will be difficult but it will also give them their eighth consecutive AFC West title.

Let's look at the steps toward getting into the postseason for the Chiefs in Week 17:

  1. Chiefs defeat the Bengals
  2. Chiefs tie the Bengals
  3. Raiders lose to Colts + Broncos lose to Chargers
  4. Raiders tie Colts + Broncos tie the Chargers
  5. Some combination of Broncos/Raiders losing and/or tying

Basically, the Chiefs need to not lose or they need the Raiders and Broncos to not win. It's that simple, but in an upside-down world known as the 2023 NFL season, one in which every team appears to be significantly flawed, it also feels like things could be more difficult than they need to be with two weeks left in the season.

The Bengals, for their part, need to win out in order to have a good chance of making the playoffs and that means beating the Chiefs on the road and then hosting the Cleveland Browns at season's end. Even then they'll need some help from a crowded conference.

The Chiefs host the Bengals on New Year's Eve and will kick off on Sunday afternoon at 3:25 p.m. C.T.