The Kansas City Chiefs have done what seemed impossible just weeks ago: They’ve taken the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff race.
The Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 34-28 in an overtime thriller this past Thursday, and the stars aligned for K.C. to move from No. 3 to No. 1 after Sunday’s batch of games.
Here’s a look at the current AFC playoff standings:
Standings after Week 15
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1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) [AFC West leader]
2. New England Patriots (9-5) [AFC East leader]
3. Tennessee Titans (9-5) [AFC South leader]
4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) [AFC North leader]
5. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)
6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)
7. Buffalo Bills (8-6)
New York Jets (3-11)
Houston Texans (3-11)
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)
The Chiefs’ win put them two games ahead of the Chargers in the AFC West. The Chiefs can clinch the AFC West title with one more win and a Chargers loss, or just two more wins.
Losses by the Patriots and Titans in Week 15 allowed the Chiefs to jump ahead to the No. 1 spot in the AFC. Those two teams have tiebreakers over K.C. but their losses put them one game behind.
If the Chiefs remain the No. 1 seed by the end of the season, that means they would have a bye in the wild-card round of the postseason. They’d then play the lowest seed remaining in the divisional round while having home-field advantage all the way up to the AFC Championship Game.
Can the Chiefs clinch the No. 1 seed early?
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
There is a scenario where the Chiefs could clinch the No. 1 seed heading into Week 18. That scenario would be:
The Chiefs win their next two games (against the Steelers and Bengals)
The Patriots lose one of their next two (against the Bills or Jaguars)
The Titans lose one of their next two (against the 49ers or Dolphins)
The above scenario isn’t exactly out of the question, but it would take a bit more luck on the Chiefs’ part. For now, all the Chiefs really need to do is take care of business — winning out is the best path to clinching the No. 1 seed.
What's the playoff seeding tiebreaker?
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As a reminder, here is the playoff tiebreaking procedure:
Head-to-head record, if applicable.
Best conference win-loss record.
Best common games win-loss record (minimum of four).
Strength of victory.
Strength of schedule.
Best combined points scored and points allowed ranking within the conference.
Best combined points scored and points allowed ranking within the NFL.
Best net points conference games.
Best net points all games.
Best net touchdowns in all games.
A coin flip.
Who are the Chiefs' remaining opponents?
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Week 16 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 17 @ Cincinnati Bengals
Week 18 @ Denver Broncos