NFL Playoff Picture Predictions: How Chiefs vs. Chargers Could Impact Race for AFC West and No. 1 Seed

NFL Playoff Picture Predictions: How Chiefs vs. Chargers Could Impact Race for AFC West and No. 1 Seed article feature image
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David Eulitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

  • The NFL playoff picture is taking shape as the stakes rise late in the season, with contenders jockeying for favorable seeding and wild-card hopefuls trying to make the cut.
  • With that in mind, we run through the scenarios to watch when the Chiefs and Chargers kickoff Week 15, featuring our expert's model predictions.

What NFL playoff picture implications are at stake when the Chargers host the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football?

The Chiefs hold a one-game lead over the Chargers atop the AFC West heading into Week 15, so the biggest implications are for their division standings as well as for the AFC’s 1-seed — that’s why we used our expert’s model to project both races based on whether the Chiefs win vs. whether the Chargers win.

The results?

The Chiefs would have a 90.8% chance of clinching the AFC West with a win but a 27.9% chance with a loss, while the Chargers would have a 60.8% chance to clinch the division with a win but a 7.2% chance with a loss.

AFC West Projections

Team If Chiefs Win If Chargers Win
Chiefs 90.8% 27.9%
Chargers 7.2% 60.8%
Broncos 2.0% 11.3%
Raiders 0.0% 0.0%

As for the AFC’s 1-seed — and thus the conference’s only first-round bye — our expert’s projections would swing notably in either scenario.

The Chiefs and Chargers sit third and fifth in the conference, respectively. Unsurprisingly, both would improve their chances of clinching the No. 1 seed with a win — the Chiefs’ would rise to 19.9% and the Chargers’ to 9.9% — but arguably the most notable implication is that the Patriots’ chances of securing the top seed would fall below 50% with a Chiefs win but rise above 50% with a Chargers win.

AFC No. 1 Seed Projections

Team If Chiefs win If Chargers win
Patriots 47.50% 57.60%
Titans 29.90% 27.40%
Chiefs 19.90% 2.40%
Ravens 1.20% 1.50%
Bills 0.60% 0.20%
Bengals 0.40% 0.60%
Colts 0.20% 0.30%
Chargers 0.20% 9.90%
Broncos 0.10% 0.10%

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