The Chiefs kicked off a critical Week 15 for the NFL playoff picture with a thrilling 34-28 overtime win over the Chargers on “Thursday Night Football”.
Here’s what that result means for both team’s playoff chances, with Kansas City improving to 10-4 and Los Angeles falling to 8-6 in the AFC West standings:
NFL playoff picture: AFC West
With the Chiefs winning …
The Chiefs have inched closer to clinching their sixth consecutive AFC West title. They increased their lead to two games over Los Angeles, while Denver (7-6) and Las Vegas (6-7) already blew their big chances in losing at Kansas City in the previous two games. The Chiefs can clinch the division with one more win and one more Chargers loss in the final three weeks of the new 17-game schedule.
The Chargers still hold the No. 5 spot and top wild-card position in the AFC, but are now only a half-game ahead of the Colts (7-6), Bills (7-6), Browns (7-6), Bengals (7-6) and Broncos (7-6), opening the door for a wholesale shakeup after Week 15 is completed. They do, however, have key head-to-head tiebreakers against the Browns, Bengals and still have one more game left with the Broncos to split that series.
While the Chiefs finish with the Steelers, Bengals and Broncos with the last two games being on the road, the Chargers close with the Texans and consecutive division games against the Broncos and Raiders. There’s no question Kansas City will finish business in the division, but Los Angeles also has a good chance to sweep the rest of its games to ensure at least the No. 7 seed.
Kansas City also improves to above .500 in AFC play at 5-4. They still need help from the Patriots (9-4) and/or the Titans (9-4) losing to move up from No. 3 after Week 15, but the Chiefs would be sitting pretty to at least stay put and host a wild-card game. Winning the division is the only real question for the Chiefs as their playoff probability already was near 100 percent before Week 15. Now their chances of repeating again in the AFC West are at near 90 percent.
Even with the division getting out of reach, the Chargers still have an 80 percent chance of making the playoffs.