NFL Playoff Picture: How Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs Can Clinch the AFC’s No. 1 Seed in Week 17

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are postseason-bound yet again. In unrelated news, water is wet.

A Week 16 rout over the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers clinched the Chiefs’ sixth consecutive AFC West division title and the eighth postseason appearance in Andy Reid’s nine seasons. However, Kansas City’s work isn’t done yet, especially with a Week 17 showdown against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals looming.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs can clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed in Week 17

When the NFL added a seventh playoff team in 2020, a trade of sorts occurred. By adding a third Wild Card Game in each conference, the league ensured the No. 2 seed no longer had the first postseason weekend off.

Only the top seed in each seed now gets the Wild Card Round off, and the Chiefs can clinch that week of rest in Week 17. First, Mahomes and the Chiefs must extend their winning streak to nine games and defeat Burrow’s Bengals. Cincinnati is 9-6 and will clinch the AFC North with a victory on Sunday.

Kansas City also needs help from the streaking Miami Dolphins. If Kansas City wins or ties on Sunday and Miami takes down the Tennessee Titans, the Chiefs will obtain the AFC’s top seed yet again.

Miami has ridden a stingy defense to seven consecutive wins after a 1-7 start, which potentially bodes well for the Chiefs. At least, unless those two teams eventually square off in the postseason, but let’s take things one step at a time.

The Chiefs are extremely familiar with owning the AFC’s top seed

Kansas City secured the AFC’s top seed in 2018 and 2020, reaching the AFC Championship Game both years. Brady, then playing for the New England Patriots, outdueled Mahomes in the 2018 AFC title game and won the Super Bowl two weeks later.

As for 2019, Lamar Jackson and the 14-2 Baltimore Ravens won the AFC’s No. 1 seed. However, Ryan Tannehill and the Tennessee Titans pulled off a road upset in the Divisional Round, guaranteeing Mahomes and the Chiefs would host the AFC Championship Game a week later.

Mahomes threw three touchdowns and ran for another in the Chiefs’ 35-24 victory on Jan. 19, 2020. Kansas City won its second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history 14 days later.

Last year, Kansas City defeated Baker Mayfield and the upstart Cleveland Browns in the Divisional Round. Mahomes shredded the Buffalo Bills’ defense for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-24 victory a week later.

The Bills got their revenge, 38-20, on Oct. 10. Only time will tell if the two franchises meet for a third time in a year.

Which other AFC teams have clinching scenarios in Week 17?


How Every AFC North Team Can Still Win the Division

The Bills got their revenge, 38-20, on Oct. 10. Only time will tell if the two franchises meet for a third time in a year.

Week 17 could be an extremely busy weekend when it comes to clinching scenarios and fans buying championship hats. The Bengals and Titans can each clinch their respective divisions with victories. Tennessee can also lock up the AFC South for the second straight year if the Las Vegas Raiders defeat the Indianapolis Colts.

Elsewhere in the AFC, the Bills and Patriots can each clinch playoff berths with non-losses and other teams losing or tying, depending on the scenario. Buffalo’s easiest way in is with a win and a Baltimore Ravens loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

New England needs a victory over the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Dolphins or Raiders to either lose or tie in their respective games.

In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers will lock up the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a victory and a Dallas Cowboys loss. At least, that’s the easiest way to secure a bye week.

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