The Chiefs put themselves in a good but uncertain place with Sunday’s 33-10 victory over the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium.
They’re in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons under the regime of coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey.
But a week remains in the regular season, and big rewards await the Chiefs if the ball bounces their way on Sunday.
With a Chiefs victory at San Diego and an Oakland Raiders loss at Denver, the Chiefs would be the AFC West champions. It would be the franchise’s first division crown since 2010.
The Chiefs won three division titles in the 1990s, two since 1997.
From a postseason standpoint, a Chiefs victory/Raiders loss parlay would increase the team’s chance of success. The team that wins the AFC West won’t play in the wild-card round of the playoffs on Jan. 7-8.
For a team that had its bye week after four games and will have played on 12 consecutive weekends to finish the regular season, a week off would be a welcome break.
It also would assure the Chiefs a home playoff game.
“We have a chance to improve ourselves, a chance to grab the No. 2 seed,” Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Getting the bye the first week would be great if it happens, and getting the home playoff game.”
The Chiefs can be the No. 2, No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs.
A No. 5 seed happens if the Chiefs and Raiders both win or if the Chiefs (11-4) finish with a better record than the Dolphins (10-5). A No. 6 seed happens if the Chiefs lose and the Dolphins beat the New England Patriots.
This scenario is unlike Reid’s first playoff team with the Chiefs in 2013, when they were locked into their seed and rested starters in the regular-season finale.
“Nothing’s really been decided except you’re in the playoffs,” Reid said. “There are other things that can be decided.”
The playoff appearance will mark the first time since 1994-95 that the Chiefs have reached the postesason in consecutive seasons.
The Raiders are bidding for their first AFC West championship since 2002, the year they lost the Super Bowl to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They’ve clinched their first playoff appearance since that year but were dealt a tough blow over the weekend when quarterback Derek Carr was lost for the season because of a broken leg.
Reid coached Carr at the Pro Bowl last year and said he felt badly for the quarterback, who was having a breakthrough season.
“I’m into everybody healthy and let’s-have-the-best-team-win kind of thing,” Reid said. “I don’t wish injuries on anybody. I’d rather have everybody out there, and let’s figure out who the best team is that way.
“My heart goes out to him. He’ll have a lot of good years ahead of him as he goes.”
Oakland backup quarterback Matt McGloin is expected to make his first start since 2013.