The Chiefs may be finished with the regular season, but their playoff situation is still up in the air.
Kansas City finished with a 12-5 record after beating the Denver Broncos 28-24 in Week 18. With that win, the Chiefs can finish no lower than the No. 2 seed heading into the playoffs.
The Chiefs still have a chance to take the No. 1 seed, but in order to do so, they’ll need the Houston Texans to defeat the Tennessee Titans. If that doesn’t happen, the Chiefs will be a No. 2 seed and will play the No. 7 seed in the wild-card round.
Who that No. 7 seed will be is still a big question. There are seven potential opponents, and 128 scenarios that can impact who the Chiefs play in the opening round. Below is each potential opponent, ranked from easiest to toughest. I’ve also included the odds for that team being the Chiefs’ opponent based on the 128 scenarios, as well as probabilities from FiveThirtyEight.
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Odds to play Chiefs: 4.75%
The Chiefs have pretty low odds to face the Steelers, but if K.C. doesn’t get the bye then Chiefs fans would probably love to face this team again. Just two weeks ago the Chiefs dominated Pittsburgh 36-10. The game was never in reach for the Steelers.
With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger preparing for retirement and the Steelers offense in the bottom 11 in yards per game (315.4) and points per game (20.4), this would likely be a cakewalk for the Chiefs.
Las Vegas Raiders
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The only reason why the Raiders aren’t at the top of this list is that they’re a divisional opponent, and it’s tough to defeat a team three times in one season. That said, the Chiefs absolutely have Las Vegas’ number this season.
The Chiefs blew out the Raiders twice in 2021 by a combined score of 89-23. There’s not much reason to believe Kansas City wouldn’t beat them again. The Raiders just don’t have an answer for the Chiefs’ explosive offense, and the K.C. defense has continually put pressure on quarterback Derek Carr, sacking him six times this year.
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Only four scenarios out of 128 would allow the Ravens to be the No. 7 seed, but the NFL is wild. It probably wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Chiefs to get this matchup back after a close loss against Baltimore in Week 2, which ended on a fumble by running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
The biggest thing the Chiefs would have going here would be the Ravens’ quarterback situation. Tyler Huntley would likely be the starter at QB for this matchup. Huntley has not been terrible with three starts this season, but he’d be a bad matchup for the Chiefs defense which usually takes advantage of inexperienced QBs.
And even if Lamar Jackson does play, he would be playing on a banged-up ankle which would hurt his best asset — his running threat. Plus, historically, Jackson has not done well against the Chiefs.
New England Patriots
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This would be an interesting matchup for the Chiefs. Andy Reid is 0-2 vs. the Patriots in the postseason as Chiefs head coach, but those losses were against Tom Brady-led teams. This matchup would be K.C.’s first against rookie QB Mac Jones.
Jones is surely no Brady, but he’s no slouch either. Plus, the Patriots have a good running game and arguably the best defense in the league. This would be a tough challenge for K.C., but it’d be tough for Jones to keep up with Patrick Mahomes.
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The Colts had a similar turnaround as the Chiefs did this season. After starting 1-4, Indy went on an 8-3 run and has a good shot to make the playoffs. The Colts have a bunch of talented offensive playmakers including the NFL’s leading rusher Jonathan Taylor, who has 1,734 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground.
What keeps Indy from being the toughest opponent on this list is QB Carson Wentz. He has actually had a pretty good season, but has been a little inaccurate (62.6 completion percentage) and averages just 6.55 yards per attempt since Week 6. In the playoffs, it’s usually best to bank on the best QBs, and Wentz isn’t exactly at the top of that list.
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It’s probably a good thing that this opponent has such low odds of facing the Chiefs because this would be a tough playoff opener. The Bills demolished the Chiefs 38-20 the last time these two played in Week 5.
It’s true to say that the Week 5 Chiefs were a completely different team than now. They’d likely play the Bills much closer. Still, it’d be a tough matchup for both squads, and it’s a game that’d feature two of the best QBs in the league in Mahomes and Josh Allen. Ideally, the Chiefs would not want to open the playoffs against an opponent with such a high ceiling.
Los Angeles Chargers
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This is the most likely opponent for the Chiefs, which is scary because of how close these two teams have played each other this season. The Chiefs and Chargers are split 1-1 this year by a combined 58-58 score. If that’s not a true rivalry, I’m not sure what is.
The one thing the Chiefs have going for them with this matchup is that they were not at full strength when these two last played. The Chiefs were missing cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, linebacker Willie Gay and defensive lineman Chris Jones in Week 15. Those three would be available for this next matchup, so ideally they’d have more success.