AFC West Playoff Picture: Three-Way Tie For First Place

Last Updated: 2017-12-04

During the first couple of weeks of the NFL season, it looked like the AFC West would be the best division in the NFL. Well, that notion seems farfetched now. Still, the AFC West might end up being the second most compelling division in all of football. The NFC South has a lot of questions to be answered. However, they have winning teams. The AFC West doesn’t have any team above .500. As a result, they might only receive one playoff bid when the season ends.

Currently, three teams are tied for first place with (6-6) records. They’ve all gotten to this point in different ways. The Kansas City Chiefs began the season with a (5-0) record. Despite their freefall, the Chiefs are still holding the tiebreaker with the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoff race. However, they need to actually win games down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders have struggled their way to a (6-6) record. They are currently on a two-game winning streak. It’s their second such streak of the season. However, if the Raiders don’t win three in a row, their playoff chances will take a direct hit. Finally, the Los Angeles Chargers have come from the depths of despair to get back in the playoff race. Let’s take a look at each team’s chances.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (6-6): The Chiefs really are holding the playoff spot for the time being due to their better division record. They are (2-1) vs. division foes. Their lone loss came on the fourth last play against the Raiders. As a result, the most important game of the season is coming up. The Chiefs have three home games before finishing the season on the road. With three more games against AFC West opponents, all the Chiefs have to do is win those three division games. The Chiefs are averaging 25 points per game. However, their No. 6 scoring offense wasn’t able to offset their woeful defensive performance against the New York Jets. The Chiefs are giving up 22.8 points per game. In all, they have 303 points for to 274 points against. Meaning, they are a +29 points. Next Game vs. Oakland Raiders.
  1. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6): The Los Angeles Chargers didn’t win their first game until October 8th. They started the season with four straight losses. Currently, the Chargers are on a three game winning streak and they seem like the best team in the division. However, they have two road games left on the schedule. They go to the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets in consecutive weeks. Keep in mind, AFC West leaders are one game out of the final AFC wild card spot. Overall, there are seven teams within two games of that playoff spot. Therefore, the Chargers must win their conference games in case of tiebreakers. They also have one more game against an NFC opponent. The Chargers have the best defense in the division, giving up 212 points. That equates to 17.7 points per game. They are scoring 22.3 points per game. As a result, the Chargers are +56 points. Next game vs. Washington Redskins.
  1. Oakland Raiders (6-6): The Oakland Raiders started the season with two wins. They haven’t been the same since. However, the Raiders are currently on a two-game winning streak. In addition to being third in the pecking order, the Raiders are also behind the Buffalo Bills with the same record. Remember, the Bills defeated the Raiders earlier in the season. That’s why it’s highly important for the Raiders to win the division. They also have the worst scoring differential out of the AFC West leaders. They have 249 points for and 278 points against. That amounts to -29. More importantly, the Raiders have the toughest remaining schedule in the AFC. They face four teams vying for a playoff spot. In addition to games against the Chiefs and Chargers, they also play the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. Moreover, the Raiders have three road games left. They have already lost three road games this season. Next game @ Kansas City Chiefs.

The Conclusion– Each team has suffered through a four game losing streak. With four games left, it’s still possible for one of these teams to drop out of the AFC West race entirely. Interestingly enough, the three teams have split one win apiece in head to head competition.

Raiders over Chiefs 31-30

Chiefs over Chargers 24-10

Chargers over Raiders 17-16.

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