The Chiefs punched their playoff ticket with Sunday’s 27-24 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens. The Chiefs also got some help on Sunday when it comes to postseason positioning.
In the process, they narrowly missed a sweep of splendid misfortune from their closest competitors in the playoff picture when the Los Angeles Chargers held off the Cincinnati Bengals.
Losses by the New England Patriots and Houston Texans opened a little breathing room for the Chiefs in terms of playoff seeding.
The Chiefs improved to 11-2. The Patriots, who fell on the game’s final play to the Dolphins — a 69-yard completion now known as the “Miami Miracle” — dropped to 9-4.
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So did the Texans, who lost at home to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Patriots and Texas still have two-game leads in their divisions and appear headed for division titles. If the Chiefs win the AFC West with a better record, they can’t be seeded below those two teams in the playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the AFC North with a 7-5-1 record, a half-game ahead of the Ravens (7-6).
All eyes will be on the next Chiefs game, against the Chargers on Thursday Night Football at Arrowhead Stadium.
The two best records in the AFC now reside in the West. The Chargers improved to 10-3 with their victory. But it’s possible that one team will finish with the best record and become the top seed and the other team will be the fifth seed as the top wild card team. The top four seeds go to division winners.
Time to consider some tie-breakers:
If the Chargers win on Thursday and draw even in the standings, the Chiefs would hold the tie-breaker at that moment with a better division record. The Chiefs would be 4-1, the Chargers 3-2.
If the Chiefs win on Thursday, they’ll clinch the division, having swept the season series with two games remaining, and then it will be a matter of getting the best seed possible.
All of which speaks to the importance of Sunday’s victory was for the Chiefs.
“That was a hard-fought win, a big win for our AFC chances,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. “(A loss) would have made things tougher to get a home field advantage.”
The top two seeds in the AFC and NFC playoffs receive byes. The next two division winners play host to wild-card teams on the first weekend of the playoffs, Jan. 5-6.
Under coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs have qualified for the playoffs five times. Once, they’ve not played in the wild card round. In 2016, they were the second seed. But the Chiefs lost the divisional round game to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The AFC playoff picture today: 1. Chiefs (11-2). 2. Patriots (9-4). 3. Texans (9-4). 4. Steelers (7-5-1). 5. Chargers 10-3), 6. Ravens (7-6).