KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Only a disastrous turn of events could deny the Kansas City Chiefs a playoff berth, but when and where the Chiefs begin their playoff journey remains very clouded.
How do the odds stack? According to FiveThirtyEight.com, the probabilities strongly favor the Chiefs. The site gives Kansas City a greater than 99 percent likelihood of making the playoffs. The Chiefs hold an 83 percent chance of winning the division and an 81 percent chance of earning a first-round bye. The site estimates the Chiefs have an 18 percent to win the Super Bowl, trailing only the Patriots at 23 percent.
Kansas City’s 21-13 win over the Raiders gives the Chiefs the lead in the AFC West by virtue of their sweep of the Raiders this season. That also gives the Chiefs possession of the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They trail the Patriots by a game.
To secure the No. 1 seed, the Chiefs need to win and see the Patriots lose out. In the event of a tie-breaker, the Patriots hold a 3-0 record against common opponents with two games remaining (Broncos and Jets). The Chiefs stand 2-2 with one game remaining (Broncos). The Chiefs need to Patriots to lose at least two of their final three games to have an opportunity at the top seed.
For purposes of clinching a playoff berth, the Chiefs essentially hold a magic number of two against the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens. Any combination of two Chiefs wins and losses by each team clinches a playoff spot for Kansas City.
If Kansas City beats Tennessee Sunday, the team clinches a postseason berth with loses by two of those three teams. Denver hosts New England Sunday while the Dolphins visit the New York Jets. The Ravens finish week 14 with a trip to New England and hosts the Philadelphia Eagles next week.
The Chiefs hold a magic number of three to win the AFC West. Any combination of three wins or Raiders losses eliminates Oakland. The Chiefs need a combination of two wins or Denver losses to eliminate the Broncos.
If the Chiefs lose the division, they could still fall as far as the No. 6 seed in the AFC. The possibility stands fairly remote because it would require the Chiefs to lose their final three games. Two of the following teams also need to win virtually all of their final games: Denver, Miami, Baltimore or Tennessee.