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Chiefs playoff picture: ugly division loss edition

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The Chief still control their own destiny in the postseason

arrowhead stadium b2 flyover falcons

As ugly and unexpected as it was to endure the Kansas City Chiefs’ 29-28 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night, it’s important to remember one thing:

The Chiefs still control their own postseason destiny.

With wins in their last two games, the Chiefs will be AFC West champions for the third year in a row, while holding the number one seed in the postseason. Here’s the picture as it stands now.

AFC Playoff Picture December 14

Team W-L-T Position Tiebreak
Chiefs (1) 11-3-0 West Champ div record
Patriots (2) 9-4-0 East Champ head-to-head
Texans (3) 9-4-0 South Champ
Steelers (4) 7-5-1 North Champ
Chargers (5) 11-3-0 Wild Card #1
Ravens (6) 7-6-0 Wild Card #2 common games
Colts 7-6-0 head-to-head
Dolphins 7-6-0 head-to-head
Titans 7-6-0
Broncos 6-7-0
Browns 5-7-1
Bengals 5-8-0
Bills 4-9-0 head-to-head
Jaguars 4-9-0 head-to-head
Jets 4-9-0
Raiders 3-10-0

But without wins in both of those games, the Chiefs will need some help to get the one seed — or even win the AFC West.

Obviously, any loss by the Chargers — facing the Ravens at home, and the Broncos on the road — will help. If the Chargers lose to the Ravens a week from Sunday, the Chiefs can still get a first-round bye with losses in either of their last two games. The one seed would be the most likely outcome, but there’s a about a one-in-four chance it would be the two seed.

The same is true if the Chargers win against the Ravens and lose to the Broncos. The Chiefs would need at least one win to close out the season to assure a bye, and would have roughly a three-in-four chance of having the number one seed, and a one-in-four chance at the two seed.

The outlook improves a little should Chargers lose both of their remaining games. If the Chiefs win either one of theirs, the Chiefs will have about a four-in-five chance for the one seed, and a one-in-five chance for the two.

The nightmare scenario is that the Chargers win both of their remaining games. Then the Chiefs have zero room for error. A loss in either game gives them the five seed, but that’s as low as they can go; if the Chargers win out, the Chiefs would have the five seed if they lost both of their remaining games.

For the Chiefs, losing both of their last two games — regardless of what other teams do — gives them about a four-in-five chance of getting the five seed. They would still have a very small chance to get a first-round bye, but only in the event of meltdowns elsewhere.

For example: the Chiefs lose their last two. The Jets beat the Texans and Patriots. The Steelers beat the Patriots. The Chargers lose to the Ravens and Broncos. The Chiefs would have the one seed at 11-5.

But that’s not going to happen... right?

So here’s what the Chiefs need to do: win out.