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A win, especially over a divisional rival, is never a bad thing. Based on that logic, it’s hard for the Kansas City Chiefs to feel too bad about last night’s performance. Their much-maligned defense stepped up, keeping the on top of the AFC West standings, but the game was far from a work of art.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs will try to hold off the Oakland Raiders in the AFC West.
Can Patrick Mahomes help the Kansas City Chiefs win the AFC West again? | Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

The Chiefs enter their bye week with a 7-4 record, which is good for the divisional lead and the third overall seed in the conference. They might be the leaders in the clubhouse, but it won’t be easy to claim another AFC West title.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ tough 2019

After last year’s offensive explosion, we all knew what to expect from the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs. Their defense would struggle, Andy Reid would call some creative plays—and a few weird time outs—and, in case of emergency, Patrick Mahomes would paper over any cracks. While the team has followed that general template, the season has been far from perfect.

Despite losing Tyreek Hill in the opening game of the season, the Chiefs dashed out to a 4-0 record. They then dropped their next two games, both of which came in Arrowhead Stadium, to the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. While Kansas City got back to winning ways against the Denver Broncos, they lost Patrick Mahomes in the process.

After going 1-1 without Mahomes—it’s hard to take issue with losing to the Green Bay Packers under any circumstances—the Chiefs dropped the ball against the Tenessee Titans; despite having the game under control, the offense couldn’t run out the clock, and the defense failed to get the final stop. While KC got back on track last night, signs aren’t that encouraging. While Patrick Mahomes continues to be elite, the rest of the team is moving in fits and starts. They could have easily lost to the Chargers if Philip Rivers didn’t literally throw the game away.

The Chiefs and Raiders run-in

After 11 weeks of NFL action, the Kansas City Chiefs have a narrow lead in the AFC West. At 7-4, they’re sitting one game ahead of the rival Oakland Raiders.

While the Chiefs have the edge right now, they have a more difficult schedule down the stretch. After their bye week, Kansas City will host the Raiders; after that, they play the Patriots, Broncos, Bears, and Chargers.

Oakland will play the New York Jets next weekend, before heading to Kansas City for the rivalry game. After visiting the Chiefs, the Raiders wrap up their schedule with the Titans, Jaguars, Chargers, and Broncos. It doesn’t take an NFL expert to tell you which team has the easier slate of games.

Who will win the AFC West?

While it’s always risky to make assumptions, the entire AFC West could come down to the Chiefs and Raiders meeting in Week 13.

Let’s omit that game for a moment. Even the most assured Kansas City fan won’t be confident going into New England; a loss there would give the Chiefs five on the season. The Raiders, on the other hand, could easily win all their games, bringing their record to 11-4. If the Chiefs win their head-to-head meeting, both teams will finish the season 11-5, and Kansas City will own the first tiebreaker.

While the Chiefs will like their chances to beat the Raiders at home, coming off a bye week, anything can happen in one game. They might be the leader in the clubhouse and the statistical favorite to win the division, but the AFC West is currently there for the taking.