Here’s how the AFC playoff picture looks after several changes during Week 16’s early window:
- Chiefs, 14-1
- Steelers, 13-3
- Bills, 11-3 (Move to No. 2 win a win Monday)
- Titans, 10-4
- Wild Card 1: Dolphins, 10-5
- Wild Card 3: Ravens, 10-5
- 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.