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Chiefs Playoff Picture: in Week 15, the AFC West is almost a reality

Let’s show how the Chiefs’ postseason possibilities line up following Week 14’s NFL action.

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Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs now stand 10-3 after their 34-28 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon.

Four remain in the 2022 NFL season, in which the Chiefs are on the road against the Houston Texans (1-11-1), return home to play the Seattle Seahawks (7-6) and Denver Broncos (3-10) and then finish the regular season in Nevada against the Las Vegas Raiders (5-8).

Let's take a look at the team's current playoff picture. As always, we'll 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 33% chance to win the single AFC bye (34% a week ago) and a 15% chance to win Super Bowl LVII (down from 17%). The Buffalo Bills now have a 20% chance of winning the championship, while the Philadelphia Eagles' chance now stands at 18%.

Making the playoffs

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

With Sunday's victory, making the playoffs could not be more straightforward for Kansas City: winning any of its final four games will earn the Chiefs their eighth consecutive ticket to the dance.

Winning the AFC West

The same formula applies to winning the AFC West: just one victory will lock up the division for the seventh consecutive season. Any Los Angeles Chargers loss during the rest of the season will also clinch the division for Kansas City.

Getting a first-round bye

For this reason, you might have been rooting for the Miami Dolphins to defeat the Chargers during Week 14's Sunday Night Football matchup. That's perfectly reasonable because, when combined with Sunday's win in Denver, a Dolphins win would have locked up both the West and the playoffs for the Chiefs.

But there's an argument that the Chargers winning that game was a better outcome — because the Dolphins were one of four teams (the others were the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals) that were still competing with the Chiefs for the AFC's No. 1 seed. Each loss by one of those teams makes it easier for the Chiefs to get the bye.

Unfortunately, all of those teams — except the Dolphins — won their Week 14 games. But in Week 15, the Dolphins visit the Bills, the Ravens visit the Cleveland Browns, and the Bengals are in Florida to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Should the Bills, Ravens and Bengals lose — and the Chiefs defeat the Texans — Kansas City's chance of winning the bye doubles. Winning the final three games of the season would clinch the top spot.

There's still hope that the Chiefs could go into Week 18 with a chance to secure the bye even if they lose to the Raiders — but that will require the Bills to lose two of their final four games, while the Ravens and Bengals would have to lose at least one. Since the Bills and Bengals will play each other in Week 17, this means there is extra importance attached to the Dolphins and Buccaneers winning their games against the Bills and Bengals this weekend.

But as always... it starts with the Chiefs taking care of business in Houston.


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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