The Buffalo Bills will be playing with a bit of extra pep in their step, looking to exact revenge on the Chiefs for that famous 13-second comeback in the last years playoffs.
Derek Carr will make a classic dunk, rookie George Carlaftis will get his first multiple-sack game, and Trent McDuffie will throw his first NFL interception, while the Chiefs are going big. It is going to be all about Week 16, with injuries playing an outsize role in the NFLs playoff predictions.
Once they do, the Browns are going to be playing for pride over their last two games for a second straight year. The Commanders must win the last two games to remain in playoff contention. The good news is that the Indianapolis Colts still have two regular-season games left, and they will need a victory in one of them to secure first place in the NFC playoffs.
Losing to the Houston Texans is a complete weirdness, but if they can finish off their entire season with a victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, they are playoff-bound. Even though the Dolphins defeated the New York Jets and sneaked into the playoffs last week, it does not look like the Dolphins are equipped to hang with the Chiefs, Bills, and Bengals.
No matter what happens over the last week, the Cincinnati Bengals are proven to be the best team in the AFC North all season long, going 4-1 against the AFC North. The Cincinnati Bengals finish off their all-season by traveling to take on the Cleveland Browns, who will be doing everything in their power to be a spoiler for the Cleveland Browns. While the Cincinnati Bengals are riding high off of a surge, and certainly loaded with adrenaline heading into their third AFC Championship Game — but their first since 1989 — they do head in with more question marks than the Chiefs, no question.
The hot streak that the Kansas City Chiefs were riding as they played Pittsburgh ended the following week, as the Bengals not only ended their eight-game winning streak, they also eliminated them from the top spot in the conference. Now, with the Chiefs enjoying the rest of their week before preparing to make the Divisional Round of the playoffs, they are filled with confidence born of having the most well-rounded team they have had in years.
Not only did the Alex Smith-led squad make it back to the postseason, but it won its first playoff game in almost three decades. After winning the opening game a year ago at Houston, they went on to lose five games in a row, a stretch of bad luck that included losing Jamaal Charles to a season-ending knee injury. The Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Co. squad that lost to the Patriots in the playoffs last season. Alex Smith Jamaal Charles The playoffs team has not lost a regular-season game since Oct. 18, 2015.
That means Alex Smiths team brings a 10-game winning streak to an optimistic-looking season, which begins against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. The Chiefs should be able to capitalize coming off the bye week with another home game in primetime, and earn a huge win in the AFC Championship Game over the Titans at Arrowhead Stadium.
The team will get to play a “Nobody Believes In Us” map for the first time during the Patrick Mahomes era, and in fact, some pundits are questioning the Chiefs and their chances to get into the playoffs, much less winning the AFC West again. The Los Angeles Chargers were the team many Chiefs fans were nervous about possibly playing in the first round of the playoffs last season, before the Colts imploded and missed the playoffs entirely. After Joe Burrow was sacked nine times last week versus Tennessee (a playoff game record for most sacks by a winning QB), the Chiefs defensive front, led by veteran postseason tackles Chris Jones and Frank Clark, will certainly be salivating at the chance to throw to the struggling Cincinnati Bengals offensive line.
The Chiefs will almost certainly do so, with the team fully expecting both Tyrann Mathieu and Rashad Fenton back in camp on Sunday, making it the first time that the whole secondary has been together since the Cincinnati game. They opened the season by playing eight consecutive games against teams that had winning records from the year before–the first time that is happened in NFL history. The Chiefs allowed 52 combined points in their five games after the bye, a dominating stretch that included facing quarterbacks including New England and Philip Rivers.
Those four points did not cost the Chiefs a win against the Denver Broncos, but it is a stretch to believe that the Chiefs can keep giving up points on the ground and beat good teams consistently in the postseason. Against Vegas and Tennessee, the Cincinnati Bengals allowed 35 combined points (one fewer touchdown than Chiefs per-game scoring average in the postseason) and forced six fumbles. The winner of Sundays game at Pittsburgh Steelers must also see the Colts lose to the Jaguars and the Chargers lose at Vegas.
The changes in their odds are due in part to their recent success, but also because they have played nine games with playoff implications during this season and that gives them an extra boost when it comes time to make decisions about who makes it and who doesn’t.