Although the Denver Broncos swept the season series between themselves and the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s still not particularly clear how a potential rematch in the playoffs would play out. The Broncos may have gotten the better end of the deal today, the Chiefs played well, missing out on a few key plays that could have changed the outcome of the game.
The Chiefs were able to fight back to make Sunday evening’s game a close contest, but the Broncos were able to do the same earlier in the game. After trailing 7 to 21, the Broncos stormed back to lead 35 to 21 in the fourth quarter.
For the Denver Broncos, Sunday’s divisional matchup will be remembered for the effort Denver put in to get back in the game. For Kansas City, it was a game characterized by missed opportunities, and the loss puts the Chiefs in the uncomfortable position of being pinned into the fifth playoff position on the AFC side of the bracket.
With just four games remaining in the NFL regular season, the Chiefs would need to finish the season with at least one more win than the Denver Broncos to capture the AFC West crown. Because the Broncos have now topped the Chiefs in both their contests, a tie won’t be enough for the Chiefs to claim the top spot in the West. In other words, the Broncos are now more concerned about capturing the top seeding in the AFC, not simply about winning their division.
For all intents and purposes, the Chiefs could be locked into the fifth seed in the AFC after next week’s games. With a win, they would be a full three games in front of the sixth seed contenders, and the Broncos will likely continue to push their advantage in the AFC West. If that’s the case, the Chiefs will have the luxury of planning for the playoffs well in advance of nearly every other playoff team, despite their wildcard seeding.
Although the Chiefs have now lost twice at the hands of the Broncos, it’s possible, if not probable, that the Chiefs could once again play the Broncos in the playoffs. Although they would love another crack at their division rival, but if they get that chance, it’ll come with the disadvantage of playing in Denver with a hostile crowd to contend with.