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Here’s how the AFC playoff picture looks after Chiefs’ loss to Chargers

Chiefs Andy Reid on teams 29-28 Thursday night loss to the Chargers

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid referred to penalties on both sides of the ball, that were either right or wrong, as a key to the teams 29-28 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night December 13, 2018 at Arrowhead Stadium.
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Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid referred to penalties on both sides of the ball, that were either right or wrong, as a key to the teams 29-28 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night December 13, 2018 at Arrowhead Stadium.

It wasn’t just the Chargers who celebrated Los Angeles’ 29-28 win over the Chiefs on Thursday night.

The Patriots and Texans also potentially could benefit from the Chiefs’ stumble at Arrowhead Stadium. Both of those teams are in the hunt for a first-round bye in the AFC playoff field, along with the Chiefs and Chargers.

It’s a bit jumbled in the AFC now, so here’s a quick look at the race in the wake of Thursday’s result, including information from FiveThirtyEight.com:

Chiefs

Record: 11-3

Status: AFC West leaders

Current seed: No. 1

Conference record: 9-2

Remaining schedule: Dec. 23 at Seahawks, Dec. 30 vs. Raiders.

FiveThirtyEight.com’s chances to get playoff bye: 74 percent

Bottom line: If the Chiefs win their last two games, they’ll be the No. 1 seed in the playoffs because of a better divisional record than the Chargers. But a stumble could drop KC to the No. 5 seed.

What they’re saying: “Well, as long as we learn from it. That’s the important thing right now. You get in and you don’t take anything for granted at home or anywhere else. You have to bear down and that’s a good football team. The best thing we can do is learn from it and make ourselves a better football team.” | Chiefs coach Andy Reid after Thursday’s loss

Patriots

Record: 9-4

Status: AFC East leaders

Current seed: No. 2

Conference record: 6-3

Remaining schedule: Dec. 16 at Steelers, Dec. 23 vs. Bills, Dec. 30 vs. Jets.

FiveThirtyEight.com’s chances to get playoff bye: 79 percent

Bottom line: New England has a chance to grab the top spot in the AFC by winning out and catching a break or two.

What they’re saying: “One thing about coach (Bill) Belichick is he’s so even-keeled. When we win he brings us back down to Earth. When we lose, he tells us the truth. That is what we like about him and we don’t always do the right things as players. He knows that. Everyone is trying to get it right. The reality is that is sports. The NFL is an extremely difficult, competitive business.” | Quarterback Tom Brady after Sunday’s loss to Miami

Texans

Record: 9-4

Status: AFC South leaders

Current seed: No. 3

Conference record: 7-3

Remaining schedule: Dec. 15 at Jets, Dec. 23 at Eagles, Dec. 30 vs. Jaguars

FiveThirtyEight.com’s chances to get playoff bye: 18 percent

Bottom line: Houston is still in decent shape for a first-round bye as its schedule is soft down the stretch and a New England loss would boost their chances.

What they’re saying: “Win or lose the previous week, it’s 0-0. You’re only as good as what you do (with) the next opportunity.” Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson

Steelers

Record: 7-5-1

Status: AFC North leaders

Current seed: No. 4

Conference record: 4-5-1

Remaining schedule: Dec. 16 vs. Patriots, Dec. 23 at Saints, Dec. 30 vs. Bengals.

FiveThirtyEight.com’s chances to get playoff bye: 1 percent

Bottom line: Pittsburgh is headed in the wrong direction after losing three straight. They also face two more difficult opponents in the Patriots and Saints.

What they’re saying: “It’s getting down to the nitty-gritty. If we want to be in the playoffs, we’ve got to win these three (darn) games, simple as that.” | Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward

Chargers

Record: 11-3

Status: First wild card, second in AFC West

Current seed: No. 5

Conference record: 8-2

Remaining schedule: Dec. 22 vs. Ravens, Dec. 30 at Broncos

FiveThirtyEight.com’s chances to get playoff bye: 26 percent.

Bottom line: If they win out and get help from the Seahawks, the AFC playoff race goes through the StubHub Center.

What they’re saying: “I think it’s just a resilient team. I don’t have any problem doing it. I’ve been through a lot of these games and a lot of these veteran players have. I think it’s this team. We won a close game in Seattle, won a close game against the Titans in London, we lost a close game in Denver, we went to Pittsburgh and found a way, so I don’t think there’s anything this team can’t do.” | Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers after Thursday’s win

Ravens

Record: 7-6

Status: Second wild card, second in AFC North

Current seed: No. 6

Conference record: 6-4

Remaining schedule: Dec. 16 vs. Buccaneers, Dec. 22 at Chargers, Dec. 30 vs. Browns.

FiveThirtyEight.com’s chances to get playoff bye: Less than 1 percent

Bottom line: Baltimore has a great shot at winning the division, which means they should be motivated for that Dec. 22 game against the Chargers. The Chiefs will undoubtedly be rooting for the Ravens in that one.

What they’re saying: “The way we look at it, we need to win three games in a row. We’ve been here before. Let’s do it. But all we need to think about right now is Tampa Bay, our upcoming opponent.” | Ravens coach John Harbaugh

IN THE RUNNING: Colts (7-6), Dolphins (7-6), Titans (7-6).

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From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997. He writes about baseball and has a quirky blog that augments The Star’s coverage of area teams.

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