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AFC Outlook: Chiefs Extremely Vulnerable; Wild Card Race Scenarios

Here’s how the AFC playoff picture looks after several changes during Week 16’s early window:

  1. Chiefs, 14-1
  2. Steelers, 13-3
  3. Bills, 11-3 (Move to No. 2 win a win Monday)
  4. Titans, 10-4
  5. Wild Card 1: Dolphins, 10-5
  6. Wild Card 3: Ravens, 10-5
  7. Wild Card 2: Browns, 10-5

Due to Falcons both dropping a game-ending interception and missing an easy game-tying field goal, the Chiefs won and clinched the AFC’s No. 1 seed. That’s great. The team is not.

For the seventh straight week — seventh! —the Chiefs won in a single possession game. While, yes, winning, they’ve played sluggish-to-poor for long stretches in each. As I’ve argued over a month, the Chiefs are undoubtedly a vulnerable football team.

Kansa City cannot close teams out, its offensive line is poor, the defense is lackluster, and Patrick Mahomes is playing the worst football of his career. For two weeks in a row, Mahomes has completed less than 56% of his passes. The week before, he had three interceptions. (Aaron Rodgers, MVP.)

Chiefs’ fans shouldn’t worry about Mahomes, too much. However, they should be terrified that come playoff time Kansas City won’t have the ball last. Or that its opponents won’t’ drop a pick or miss a field goal. At some point, the Chiefs’ weekly, single 50-50 game-altering play may go in the favor of the other direction.

The AFC goes through Kansas City — in what is now a wide-open, multiple-team race.

During last night’s Dolphins-Raiders game, the broadcast deemed the final AFC Wild Card spot a race between the Dolphins and Ravens. With Week 16’s results, it appears both the Ravens and Dolphins could get in while either the Browns or Colts miss out.

Currently, Indianapolis is “in the hunt.”

Next week, Miami has a tough matchup with Buffalo. Though depending on how much the Bills care about the No. 2 seed — which doesn’t mean as much this season — Buffalo could get caught looking ahead. Similarly, the Browns have the Steelers, who can no longer compete for the top seed.

Among the four Wild Card options, Baltimore is the most dangerous. Led by Lamar Jackson, the offense is beginning to resemble last season’s, which gives them a puncher’s chance against all playoff teams.

Should the Steelers play how they did Sunday in the second-half, the AFC can seemingly be won by five teams. Buffalo, the team playing the best, is my pick. The Chiefs, despite failing to cover for seven weeks, is Vegas’ pick. Tennessee, when at its best, matches up favorably against the entire NFL. Finally, yes, the Ravens can.

Bet the AFC winner now at FanDuel.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers any news story that deserves attention but focuses on media. His interests include reading Stephen King novels, avoiding traffic on the road, and pretending to solve true-crime mysteries. He still believes Cersei should've won and encourages everyone to always question the news.

7 Comments

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  1. Of the seven teams in the Super Bowl era who have won 23 out of 24 games, yeah, the Chiefs are probably the worst.

    I mean, really, as 14-1 defending Super Bowl champs go they’re terrible.

    Chiefs clown Bobby AGAIN. What a glutton for punishment.

    See you in Tampa.

  2. Vulernable football team is a good problem to have.

    I mean they could have just lost to inferior teams like the Steelers did.

    Out of all the teams Buffalo probably has the best shot…and they still lost to the Chiefs at Buffalo.

  3. He’s not wrong: the Chiefs do look quite vulnerable. That being said, although I’m not a big fan of coasting until the playoffs (like certain NBA teams), the Chiefs are a very dynamic team and never seem to be out of any game. That isn’t easy. Until they actually lose a game that they are attempting to win, “scoreboard” is a pretty good defense.

  4. I guess eventually a guy like Bobby will be correct and can say “As I’ve stated all along…” after the Chiefs lose.

    But it is becoming rather childish. Did the writer see the Browns or Titans games? All teams are vulnerable in this day and age. It’s silly to say that Chiefs fans should be “terrified”. Why? Of what?

    The ‘offensive line is poor’ and yet the offense is #1. The defense is ‘lackluster’ whatever that’s supposed to mean…middle of the pack I suppose. And Patrick is playing the ‘worst football of his career.’ And yet he continues to win, despite Bobby’s expert gambling predictions.

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