In the NFL, it is just about getting into the playoffs. From there, anything and everything is possible. Don't believe me? Ask Jacoby Jones and Rahim Moore, and Eli Manning twice, and from the way-back machine, Jeff Hostetler.
This year, it appears the Kansas City Chiefs have one of the toughest roads to the postseason. The schedule is rough with the AFC and NFC West staring them in the face, along with the New England Patriots. However, there is a much easier way to determine if the Chiefs are going to be playoff bound.
Kansas City has six games that it needs to win five of. These are called the Money Games.
In the AFC, the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and Patriots are more than likely to win their respective divisions, accounting for half of the playoff spots. In the AFC North, three teams have a legitimate chance to win the division, but for the sake of this piece let's give the crown to the Cincinnati Bengals and say that the Baltimore Ravens will earn a Wild Card spot.
Now eliminate the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans (Ryan Fitzpatrick is the death of this team) and Oakland Raiders from the playoff race. That leaves the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers fighting along with the Chiefs for the last postseason seed.
Coincidentally, Kansas City plays all of those teams this season, including the Chargers twice. These are the six Money Games.
If the Chiefs can split with the Chargers and win the other four games, they will make the playoffs barring a total collapse. They would likely need only nine wins, considering the other teams would have to go 10-5 otherwise to beat out Kansas City. Here are the tougher games the other teams would be up against:
Home: New England, Green Bay, San Diego, Baltimore, New York
Away: Chicago, Detroit, Denver, New York, New England
Home: Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Pittsburgh, Miami, New England
Away: Green Bay, San Diego, New England, Tennessee, Miami
Home: Tampa Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Cincinnati
Away: Baltimore, Carolina, New York, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Atlanta
Home: Seattle, New York, New England, Denver
Away: Arizona, Denver, Miami, Baltimore, San Francisco
Home: Dallas, Houston, Pittsburgh, New York Giants, New York Jets, Indianapolis
Away: Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Houston
Show me the team that is going 10-5 (or in the case of San Diego, 9-5) against those schedules.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs would only need to win four of their remaining 10 games to reach the nine-win threshold. Kansas City will be favored to beat the Raiders twice, along with the Bills and St. Louis Rams. Getting to 10 wins would be the clincher, and it certainly isn't out of the question to topple the Broncos once, or the Arizona Cardinals, or even the Seattle Seahawks or Patriots at home.
When you are watching Week 1, remember how important the contest is. It's a Money Game.