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NFL power rankings Week 16 roundup: AFC team-to-beat edition

Kansas City’s big win over the Chargers carried a lot of weight in this week’s power rankings.

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Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Following their come-from-behind 36-28 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday, power rankings from across the country now agree: the Kansas City Chiefs are the AFC’s team to beat.

Here’s this week’s sampling: 2

(up from 4)

Travis Kelce has rarely performed like a dominant force this season, so consider the veteran’s sudden re-emergence as a game-wrecker an early Christmas present for the Chiefs and their fans. Kelce lit up the Chargers for a career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns on 10 catches, including the game-winning 34-yard gallop to the end zone in overtime on Thursday night. The dramatic victory moved Kansas City one step closer to its sixth consecutive AFC West title and offered more evidence the mostly dormant offense woke up just in time. Said Patrick Mahomes of his trusty tight end: “You think he’s old. He can’t run by people. But he’s still running by people. And he got in the end zone.”

— Dan Hanzus


(up from 4)

How hot is Andy Reid’s seat: Cold

The Chiefs are on the verge of winning their sixth straight AFC West crown, and they control their own destiny toward winning the AFC’s top playoff seed. So they’re going to fire Reid? Not a chance. Remember that in the five seasons before his arrival, the Chiefs had two two-win seasons and two other campaigns with four wins each; at 10-4, they’re on track to win more than those 12 games this season alone.

Adam Teicher

Sports Illustrated: 1

(up from 2)

One week ago they had to go across the country on a short week to face one of the hottest quarterbacks in football without their best defensive lineman. To quote Monty Burns of The Simpsons, “I don’t know why the Crimson Chiefs even bother to show up. They barely even won.”

— Gary Gramling 2

(up from 3)

They have ripped off five consecutive victories to put that early-season play well behind them. The defense has been outstanding.

— Pete Prisco

[Editor’s note: It’s been seven — but who’s counting?]

Yahoo! Sports: 2

(up from 5)

Not many teams had a better Week 15 than the Chiefs. They had a thrilling comeback overtime win over the Chargers to practically clinch the AFC West. Then they watched the Patriots lose on Saturday and the Titans fall on Sunday to take a strong hold of the No. 1 seed in the AFC. For all of the early season issues, the Chiefs are right where they want to be. We have to see how much their COVID-19 situation disrupts them.

— Frank Schwab

The Sporting News: 2

(up from 4)

The Chiefs’ defense cooled off without Chris Jones against the Chargers, but they took full advantage of their offense getting on track with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce all playing together again like the superstars they are. Kansas City is back flexing as a Super Bowl favorite.

— Vinnie Iyer

USA Today: 2

(up from 4)

Kansas City is the fifth team in league history to win at least 10 games in seven consecutive seasons. The Chiefs also control their fate as they seek the No. 1 seed for the third time since 2018 ... though the latest rash of COVID issues, which snared TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill this week, doesn’t help.

Nate Davis

The Washington Post: 1

(up from 3)

The Chiefs remained on a roll with a tough overtime victory Thursday night over the Chargers at SoFi Stadium. QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill put up huge numbers. The defense made some big plays at key moments. The Chiefs have won seven straight, and another run deep into the postseason seems ever more probable. But there are coronavirus issues this week, with Kelce and Hill among those placed on the covid-19 reserve list.

— Mark Maske

Bleeding Green Nation: 2

(up from 5)

The Chiefs’ outlook didn’t look so hot after a blowout loss to Tennessee dropped them to 3-4. But they bounced back by rattling off seven straight wins. The presumptive AFC favorites control their own destiny for the No. 1 seed. Teams could easily regret letting them get back in control.

— Brandon Lee Gowton

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