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