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Chiefs playoff picture: Steelers beat Patriots edition

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The Chiefs got a little help from the Steelers on Sunday afternoon, and can clinch the AFC West — and a bye — this week

Wild Card Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It’s been a long few days for Kansas City Chiefs fans.

Following their 29-28 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night, the Chiefs (and their fans) had to wait almost three days to get any good news about their hopes for the postseason. But some finally arrived late on Sunday afternoon, when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the New England Patriots 17-10.

This served to simplify postseason scenarios because the Patriots now have very little chance to win the one seed.

No... we sure don’t get to say that very often. But it sure is fun, isn’t it?

But one thing remains unchanged: The Chiefs still control their own destiny in the postseason. With a win against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night — followed by a win against the Oakland Raiders the following Sunday — the Chiefs will win the AFC West and secure the number one seed in the postseason.

But with the Steelers win, the Chiefs now have another opportunity.

In one of those weird late-season Saturday games, the Chargers will host the Baltimore Ravens at 7:20 pm Arrowhead Time (The game will be broadcast on NFL Network). With a Chargers loss on Saturday, a Chiefs victory on Sunday night will clinch the AFC West and a first-round bye for the Chiefs. It would likely be the one seed, but a loss by the Houston Texans in either of their last two games — the first is on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles early Sunday afternoon — would turn that into a certainty.

So if things go their way on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, the Chiefs could be in a position to clinch the number one seed with a victory against the Seahawks on Sunday night. This would be fabulous news for my brother-in-law, Bob, who is flying to Seattle to watch the game. But since the Chargers are currently favored by 4.5 on Saturday and the Texans are favored by 3.5 on Sunday, that’s not very likely. Sorry, Bob.

Should the Chargers win on Saturday, however, the Chiefs are left with little choice: they must win against the Seahawks and the Raiders to absolutely secure the one seed.

That said, if both the Chiefs and Chargers win in Week 16, the Chiefs could lose to the Raiders the following week and still get the one seed if the Chargers lose to the Denver Broncos in Week 17 and the Texans lose at least one of their last two games.

But what if the Chargers win on Saturday and the Chiefs lose on Sunday? That’s... bad. All the Chargers would need to do is beat the Broncos the following week to secure the one seed — and also push the Chiefs down to the five seed. Not even a Chiefs victory against the Raiders — or an improbable string of events involving a bunch of other teams — would help them. But in this scenario, a Chargers loss in Week 17 would give the Chiefs the one seed — and the Chargers the five seed — if the Chiefs defeat the Raiders at home.

So here’s another thing that hasn’t changed since Friday morning: the Chiefs just need to win out!