After a much-needed bye, the Chiefs are set to face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
On the other side of the bracket are the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals who narrowly won their games over division rivals during wild card weekend. That means if the Chiefs beat the Jaguars, a team they’ve lost to this season will be waiting for them in the AFC Championship Game.
Here’s a look at who the Chiefs could play in the AFC title game, with implied probabilities added based on Tipico NFL odds:
(4) JAX at (1) KC
(3) CIN at (2) BUF
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s look at all the divisional-round matchups.
(4) Jacksonville Jaguars at (1) Kansas City Chiefs
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
When: 3:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, Jan. 21 (NBC)
Tipico odds: Chiefs -9
Implied probability: Chiefs 79%
The Chiefs and Jags kick off the divisional round with the weekend’s first game. This game will be a rematch of their Week 10 contest which saw the Chiefs win 27-17 as 10-point favorites. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw 331 yards, four touchdowns and one interception in that game while Jags QB Trevor Lawrence was sacked five times.
What’s different this time around? Well, Jacksonville has been playing like a much more cohesive unit. Since that loss to Kansas City, Jacksonville has gone 7-1, including a postseason win over the Los Angeles Chargers last week. It’s also worth noting that Lawrence has never lost on a Saturday at any level of his football career. So this won’t be a cakewalk for the Chiefs — they’ll need to treat this like any other high-level playoff game.
(3) Cincinnati Bengals at (2) Buffalo Bills
Sam Greene / USA TODAY NETWORK
When: 2 p.m. CT on Sunday, Jan. 22 (CBS)
Tipico odds: Bills -4.5
Implied probability: Bills 66%
By the time this game begins, we’ll already know whether the Chiefs have advanced to the AFC Championship game. Maybe that gives K.C. a little bit of an edge? Who knows — either way, this game should be a slobber knocker.
It feels like destiny that this game is being run back in the playoffs after it was canceled in Week 17 following the life-threatening injury to Bills safety Damar Hamlin. That game was shaping up to be a classic before Hamlin’s injury happened. Thankfully, Hamlin is back home and recovering and will be able to watch this rematch with the rest of us.
Remember that if the Chiefs and Bills win this weekend, an AFC Championship game between those two will be played at a neutral location — Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home of the Falcons.
NFC playoff games
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
(6) New York Giants at (1) Philadelphia Eagles
7:15 p.m. CT on Saturday, Jan. 21 (FOX)
The Eagles enjoyed a bye during the wild-card round like the Chiefs. They probably won’t enjoy playing a division rival in the playoffs, something the Chiefs were able to avoid thanks to that Chargers loss. The Eagles beat the Giants twice already this season, but maybe the third time is the charm for New York?
(5) Dallas Cowboys at (2) San Francisco 49ers
5:30 p.m. CT on Sunday, Jan. 22 (FOX)
Both of these teams stomped their opponents in the wild card round, so this should be one of the most anticipated matchups of the divisional round. This is a rematch of last year’s wild-card upset which saw the Niners (as a sixth seed) beat Dallas (as a third seed). This time around the 49ers are the favorites — can the Cowboys get their revenge?