With the Pittsburgh Steelers dropping the last three games in a row, the Kansas City Chiefs — winners of their last nine — are all but guaranteed the AFC bye. In fact, they have a greater-than-99%-chance at the week off.
But don’t tell that to them.
“I haven’t really gone there,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said on Wednesday. “We’re thinking we’ve got two games, and we’ve got to get ready for those games against good football teams. That’s the way we’re approaching it. But every week we try to do the best we can, and so it’s no different this week. We’re going to try to play the best football we possibly can and anything less than that is unacceptable. That’s just not where we’re at.”
Kansas City’s opponent this week, the Atlanta Falcons, will enter Arrowhead Stadium at 4-10 and losers of their last three games. Simply by making it four, the Chiefs will clinch the bye — but they can also clinch if the Buffalo Bills or Steelers lose, as well as 24 other scenarios.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is not interested in those scenarios.
“I just know if we win this week, then we’ll kind of control our own destiny,” said Mahomes, who is also in a tight MVP race with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “That’s all you have to do is you have to keep winning games and usually that stuff kind of works out on its own.”
The team’s defensive leader echoed his counterpart’s sentiment.
“A lot of different teams are trying to get that No. 1 seed,” added safety Tyrann Matheu. “I think right now for us it’s all about one game at a time, trying to control what we can control. We’ve got a pretty good football team coming in here this weekend, an offense that’s explosive, so right now I think that’s the only thing I’m focusing on, is the Falcons and then from there, how can we beat the Chargers?
“So, once we get to the playoffs, we’ll get there, but I think right now we’re just trying to take it one game at a time, focusing on the things that are actually in front of us at the moment.”
Mathieu actually views the Falcons matchup as an opportunity for Kansas City’s defense to play its best game of the season.
“I think we’re still reaching for really our best game,” noted Mathieu. “I still don’t think we’ve put together our best game yet, and I’m hoping that game will come against the Falcons this Sunday, which like I mentioned, they’ve got great talent on offense, a lot of explosive receivers.
“I think Matt Ryan can still throw the football at a high level, so we’ll have that opportunity, we’ll have that challenge to kind of go out here and really try our best together a defensive game that we all can really be happy about.”
The words of the team’s leaders have “Reid” written all over them. The AFC is in hand, but the Chiefs know that overlooking games is not what got them to such a favorable position in the first place.