The Kansas City Chiefs have clinched a playoff spot, a season after winning just two games. In addition to that, the fight for the AFC West title, and possibly home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, will come down to the final two weeks of the season thanks to an offensive display led by Jamaal Charles.
Charles scored five touchdowns, including becoming the first running back in NFL history with four touchdown receptions in a game, to help Kansas City take the 56-31 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Charles amassed 215 yards from scrimmage, 195 through the air and 20 on the ground. The Chiefs got their first sweep of the Raiders since 2006, outscoring Oakland 80-38 in the two games this season.
The victory improves Kansas City’s record to 11-3, on pace with the Denver Broncos for the AFC’s top seed. The Broncos own the tiebreaker, however, as they defeated the Chiefs both times the two teams met up this season. To win the AFC West and have the road to the Super Bowl go through Arrowhead, Kansas City will need help from rather unlikely sources.
Denver’s final two games are both on the road, against the Houston Texans and the same Oakland Raiders that gave up a historic day to Charles today. The Texans own the NFL’s worst record and have already fired their head coach Gary Kubiak. Even if the Broncos were to drop one of these two games, Kansas City still has their own business to attend to.
The Chiefs’ remaining two games are a completely different story as far as difficulty goes. Next week they play their home finale against an Indianapolis Colts team looking to move up in playoff seeding themselves. In the final week they visit a San Diego Chargers team that has already beaten the Chiefs and could be playing for a wild card spot. It goes without saying that if Kansas City drops a game, they can forget about the division title and playoff games at home.
If Kansas City can get similar production from Charles and the offense and continue to take the ball away like it did against the Raiders today, getting five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, it will stand a good chance to win its two remaining games. It would then be up to the Texans and/or Raiders in their games against Denver to determine whether the road to the Super Bowl for the AFC goes through Mile High or Arrowhead.