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Chiefs Playoff Picture: Ravens take a step back

Let’s show how the Chiefs’ postseason possibilities line up following Week 12’s NFL action.

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Los Angeles Rams v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs now stand 9-2 after notching a 26-10 home win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday afternoon.

Six weeks remain in the 2022 NFL season, in which the Chiefs go on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals (7-4), Denver Broncos (3-8) and Houston Texans (1-9-1), return home to play the Seattle Seahawks (6-5) and Denver Broncos (3-8) and then finish the regular season in Nevada against the Las Vegas Raiders (4-7).

Let’s take a look at the team’s current playoff picture. We’ll once again use the New York Times playoff calculator to help us figure out what to expect. More details about how it works are included at the end of the article.

The big picture

As it stands right now, the Chiefs have a greater than 99% chance to make the playoffs, a greater than 99% chance to win the AFC West, a 54% chance to win the single AFC bye and an 18% chance to win Super Bowl LVII. No other team currently has a better chance to win the championship — although the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles are right behind the Chiefs at 15% and 14%.

Making the playoffs

The playoff calculator allows us to assume the outcome of any remaining games and then see how it changes things.

Right now, it’s simple: with a win against the Bengals in Cincinnati, Kansas City will earn its eighth consecutive ticket to the dance. With a loss, the team will have to win the next two games to ensure a playoff spot.

As the team’s head coach, Marty Schottenheimer once had a run of six playoff appearances. Hank Stram’s longest string was two. It is truly a great time to be a Chiefs fan.

Winning the AFC West

The Arizona Cardinals did their best on Sunday, but the Los Angeles Chargers still left Glendale with a 25-24 victory after a touchdown (and two-point conversion) in the final seconds. So now, Kansas City’s magic number for the AFC West is three: any combination of Chiefs wins and Chargers losses totaling three will clinch the division championship, ensuring Kansas City at least one home game in the postseason.

The Raiders could help that along by picking up a win when the Chargers come to Sin City on Sunday. (Las Vegas has now won two in a row after a 40-34 overtime win over the Seahawks on Sunday). So it’s possible — but perhaps not likely — that the Chiefs will be playing for the division championship when they travel to Denver in Week 14.

Getting a first-round bye

With its win over the Rams, Kansas City remains in control of its own destiny — but since the Bills avoided overtime on Sunday with a last-second field goal to beat the Detroit Lions 28-25, the Bills’ head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chiefs is still an issue. Because the Miami Dolphins beat the Texans on Sunday, they’re also a factor — but thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-27 defeat of the Baltimore Ravens (also from a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final seconds), Baltimore is less of a threat than it was a week ago.

As it stands now, the Chiefs could clinch the No. 1 seed by winning all six of its remaining games. They can also do it by winning the next five — but for that to happen, both the Bills and Dolphins will have to lose one of their remaining games. This weekend, the Bills are on the road against the New England Patriots, while the San Francisco 49ers host the Dolphins. In Week 14, the Bills host the New York Jets, while the Chargers host the Dolphins. The two teams play each other (in Buffalo) during Week 15.

So a path is open for the Chiefs to win the AFC’s top seed — and also rest their starters in Week 18. But all of that begins with a win against the Bengals this Sunday.


About the New York Times playoff calculator

The calculator begins with the Sagarin ratings for each NFL team. This rating system determines the relative strength of every team. These ratings are then used to figure the probability teams will win each of their remaining games. Using this data, the remainder of the season is simulated tens of thousands of times — and the results of these projections give us our answers. So — for example — in 99% of the simulations, the Chiefs make the playoffs.

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