Chiefs Playoffs: How the Chiefs Can Clinch the No. 1 Seed and Home-Field Advantage in Week 18
Whether you believe it’s fair or not, the Kansas City Chiefs are now in the driver’s seat to win the AFC and claim the conference’s lone first-round bye following the NFL’s decision to declare this past Monday night’s matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals a no-contest.
That highly-anticipated showdown, of course, was suspended after Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field in the first quarter. And while that was undoubtedly the right call as Hamlin’s health, which has thankfully improved, continues to be the most important thing, the fallout has created some issues pertaining to the NFL Playoffs.
Heading into Week 17, the Kansas City and Buffalo held the same 12-3 record, with the Bills owning the tiebreaker due to their win over the Chiefs in Week 6.
But Kansas City now sits atop the AFC at 13-3 following a win over the Denver Broncos, while Buffalo remains at 12-3 after the NFL‘s ruling. So what does that mean for the Chiefs’ playoff run moving forward?
Chiefs playoffs: How the Chiefs clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in Week 18
On Friday, NFL owners approved a resolution that could potentially affect the AFC side of the postseason bracket if specific results play out in Week 18 and beyond, including the possibility of the AFC Championship Game being played at a neutral site. We’ll come back to that in just a moment.
As to how the Chiefs can clinch the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye, three scenarios make that a reality:
- Chiefs win vs. Raiders
- Chiefs tie vs. Raiders + Bills tie vs. Patriots
- Bills lose vs. Patriots
However, the No. 1 seed doesn’t necessarily mean home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs for Kansas City, which is where the resolution (and the Bengals) comes back into play. Per NFL.com, here are the scenarios in which the AFC title game could be played at a neutral site, which Roger Goodell would determine if that becomes an option.
- Buffalo (12-3) and Kansas City (13-3) both win or tie in Week 18 + both teams advance to the AFC title game
- Buffalo (12-3) and Kansas City (13-3) both lose + Cincinnati (11-4) also loses or ties in Week 18 + Buffalo and Kansas City advance to the AFC title game
- Buffalo (12-3) and Kansas City (13-3) both lose + Cincinnati (11-4) wins + the AFC title game is either Bills-Chiefs or Bengals-Chiefs
Simply put, if the Chiefs win and the Bills lose or tie OR the Chiefs tie and the Bills lose, Kansas City clinches home-field advantage regardless of what the Bengals do against the Ravens.