Three AFC West teams would be in if the NFL playoffs started today. This is particularly relevant as we head into an important AFC playoff picture game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. The Chiefs are 7-4 while the Broncos are 8-3, making Sunday's matchup a first place game. The Chiefs can hope to win the AFC West if they beat the Broncos but a loss all but ensures the Chiefs will not be the AFC West champs.
The Chiefs are one of six 7-4 teams at the moment. They hold a head to head tiebreaker over the 7-4 San Diego Chargers but the two teams will meet again in Week 17, which is looking like a big AFC playoff picture game. Also note the Chargers killer schedule to finish: at Ravens, Patriots, Broncos, at 49ers, at Chiefs.
The Chiefs will also play the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are currently out of the AFC playoffs, in Week 16. That looks like a big AFC playoff picture game as well.
Conference record is the second tiebreaker behind head to head in Wild Card scenarios. The Chiefs 5-3 record in the AFC is a strong one compared to the other 7-4 teams.
Simply put, a win over the Broncos keeps the Chiefs hopes alive for an AFC West title. That would tie the two teams up at 8-4 on the season with a tie in the head to head tiebreaker. The Broncos have a better AFC West record than the Chiefs, which is why Kansas City would need another Denver loss to win the division.
A loss to the Broncos would all but officially eliminate their chances of winning the AFC West but the Chiefs would remain alive in the race for one of the two Wild Card spots in the AFC. The Chiefs conference record as well as upcoming games against Pittsburgh and San Diego would be the best thing they would have going for them.
If the playoffs started today, the Chiefs would be visiting the Colts. Again.
ESPN has a playoff machine that lets you put in different scenarios to see what would happen. Give it a shot.
1. New England Patriots (9-2)
2. Denver Broncos (8-3)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1)
4. Indianapolis Colts (7-4)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)
6. San Diego Chargers (7-4)
7. Baltimore Ravens (7-4)
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4)
9. Cleveland Browns (7-4)