KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Now, the Kansas City Chiefs wait to learn their playoff fate.
Before a Week 17 loss at Cincinnati, coach Andy Reid’s squad controlled its own destiny in the race for the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC for the postseason, which arrives next weekend.
A 34-31 loss to the Bengals allowed Tennessee to take control of the chase for the top seed, but it’s a tenuous hold.
If the Titans lose or tie Sunday at Houston against a Texans team coached by former longtime Reid disciple David Culley, whose squad claimed an upset win earlier this season in Nashville, the Chiefs get the first-round bye in the AFC.
Kansas City’s 28-24 win Saturday in Denver assured the two-time reigning AFC champion Chiefs no worse than the No. 2 seed, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes and company will be rooting for an upset come noon at NRG Stadium in Houston.
“When you get a first-round bye, it’s more of a win, because you’re going past a round in the playoffs, which are never easy,” Mahomes said. “But it is what it is. We’re ready to go wherever against whoever.”
At the very least, the Chiefs (12-5), which are now one of five NFL teams to have won at least 12 games in four consecutive seasons, are guaranteed home games in the Wild Card and Divisional playoff rounds.
While the NFL’s decision to move the Chiefs at Broncos game up a day to Saturday created some logistical headaches last week, it also ensures Reid’s team gets an extra day to prepare for a possible Wild Card meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers or Indianapolis.
“We’re going to end up getting an extra day with this game,” Reid said. “If we don’t get the bye, we’ll be ready. If we do, we’ll try to take advantage of that time, too. Either way, we’re going to utilize whatever time we have to make sure we get ourselves right for the next game.”
Kansas City will face Los Angeles if the Chargers beat Las Vegas on Sunday Night Football.
If the Raiders win, the Colts would be coming to town next week — unless, of course, the Texans manage to hand the Chiefs a week off.
“I’ll watch all the games,” Mahomes said. “I’m a fan of football just in general, but obviously I’ll have that game on the TV and be checking that one out. But I’ll have other games (on) as well, because we have a couple opponents we possibly could be playing. So, I’ll try to look at a little bit of that to see what they are doing, because those games are big for them as well.”
Kansas City, which was the top seed in the AFC in 2018 and 2020, has hosted the last three AFC Championships Games.
The Chiefs were the No. 2 seed in 2019 when the franchise snapped a 50-year Super Bowl drought, but the 2021 season has been a slog at times and Mahomes knows the road won’t be easy — no matter how the path lays out come Sunday night.
“We’re in a tough division in the AFC,” Mahomes said. “It’s going to be tough games every week that we play, and we’re going to have to find a way to play our best football at the right time of the season.”