With the changes in the playoff format and only one team getting a first-round bye, the Chiefs may be in a must-win territory to catch the top-seeded Steelers.
Going into week five of the NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs had picked up where they left off from last season’s Super Bowl success. They had just accomplished convincing wins over the Ravens and the Patriots and were getting ready for a home game against the Raiders.
The Chiefs had previously swept the Raiders over the past two seasons. However, the outcome of this game was not excepted by anyone as the Chiefs lost 32-40. The Chiefs had previously not allowed 40 points in a game since November 19, 2018, when they faced the Rams on Monday night in a 51-54 shootout. The team, especially the defense, did not appear prepared for a Las Vegas offense that was firing on all cylinders.
No matter what the reasoning was for the loss, it still falls in the L column and currently puts Kansas City a half-game game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC standings, who are undefeated at 7-0. We are only halfway through the NFL season so there is still plenty of football left to play, but when you take into account the remaining games for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs, making up one game looks to be a daunting task.
Pittsburgh has one more real test and that is a home game against the Ravens later this month. The Steelers won the first meeting between the two teams last Sunday in Baltimore, but it was a very close game. Lamar Jackson made some uncharacteristic turnovers and the Ravens blew a double-digit halftime lead. It is unlikely that Baltimore would make those mistakes a second time around, but that game does become very pivotal for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs have a tougher schedule ahead of them. They will have road games in New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and Las Vegas. The Buccaneers and Saints are in a tight race for the lead in the NFC South and have the ability to beat any team, while the Raiders have already proved that they can beat Kansas City.
As it stands currently, the Chiefs are sitting in the No. 2 seed, which is where they were last year. However, with the changes to the playoff structure this year, the No. 2 seed is not as significant as it was in previous years as reported by Adam Schefter back in February.
The No. 1 seed is the only seed that will receive a first-round bye. Last year, as the No. 2 seed, the Chiefs received a first-round bye and that became very impactful to their Super Bowl run. In fact, the last team to make it to the Super Bowl without a first-round bye was the Ravens in 2012. They made it to the Super Bowl as a No. 4 seed.
The No. 3 seed has always been the highest seed to play in the Wildcard round of the playoffs until this year. According to Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports, since 1990, NFL teams that received a first-round bye went to the Super Bowl nearly 80 percent of the time compared to just over 20 percent from the teams that had to play on Wildcard weekend.
|Super Bowl Participants By Seed (Since 1990||Percentage|
It will be assumed that the gap between the No. 1 seed and the No. 2 seed making it to the Super Bowl will expand due to the new playoff structure.
Now, Chiefs fans do not need to panic just yet. It’s only week nine, the Chiefs are only one game back, and only two teams in the league’s history have ever finished the regular season undefeated. It is very possible the Steelers will slip up down the road and the Chiefs are well-coached enough to come in at 14-2 or 13-3. Plus, the Chiefs have something that no other team has. They have Patrick Mahomes. Even if they do not get a first-round bye in the playoffs, Mahomes is absolutely the guy that can still take Kansas City back to the Super Bowl.