Strictly in terms of the Chiefs... not much. Let’s start with the current picture.
AFC Playoff Picture Week 14
|Chiefs (1)||10-2-0||West Champ|
|Patriots (2)||9-3-0||East Champ||head-to-head|
|Texans (3)||9-3-0||South Champ|
|Steelers (4)||7-4-1||North Champ|
|Chargers (5)||9-3-0||Wild Card #1|
|Ravens (6)||7-5-0||Wild Card #2|
|Dolphins||6-6-0||conf win pct|
|Colts||6-6-0||conf win pct|
|Broncos||6-6-0||conf win pct|
The big AFC headline from the weekend was the Los Angeles Chargers’ defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers with a last-second field goal. If the Steelers had avoided jumping offsides on the first attempt, we might be having a different conversation... but they didn’t.
The win strengthened the Chargers’ hand, of course — but it also pretty much eliminated any chance the Steelers might have to get a first-round bye. Thanks to that pesky tie on their record — and now having been defeated by both the Chargers and the Chiefs — the Steelers are going to have to win every remaining game to have any kind of advantage in the postseason. That’s actually kind of good for the Chiefs, as we’ll explain in a moment.
Since the Texans and the Patriots — the other two teams the Chiefs need to lose at least once to give them any kind of breathing room — both won their Week 13 games, the situation is pretty much the same as it was a week ago. The Chiefs still control their own destiny. By winning every game, they will get the number one seed, and the road to the Super Bowl in Atlanta will run through Arrowhead Stadium.
But now that we’re one week closer to the end, here’s another question: what would have to happen for the Chiefs to rest their starters in Week 17 against the Raiders? Whether that’s a good strategy or not is open to question — there are good arguments on both sides — but setting that aside, it sure would be nice if the last game of the season did not have serious playoff implications!
And it could happen. If the Chiefs win their next three games — at home against the Baltimore Ravens and the Chargers, and on the road against the Seahawks — they’d already have a 95 percent chance to have the number one seed. If just one more thing happens — that is, if the Patriots lose to the Steelers in Pittsburgh during Week 15 — the Chiefs will have the number one seed locked up. (Actually, this will be true if the Patriots lose any remaining game; it’s just that the Steelers will likely be their biggest challenge, because the Steelers will have a lot of motivation, and they’ll be playing at home).
With two conference wins before Seattle, the Chiefs would still have a very good chance at a bye week — something over 90 percent — even if they lose both of their last two games.