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NFL 2021-2022 AFC Playoff Permutations and Combinations: The Chiefs…

Written By | Jan 4, 2022
AFC, NFL, Playoffs=

Video Screen Shot – Kansas City Chiefs

LOS ANGELES, January 4, 2022 — The first 17 weeks of the 2021 NFL regular season are in the history books. In past years, this would mean the end of the regular season. Yet for the first time ever, Week 18 is here. Each team now plays 17 regular-season games instead of 16.

This week football jargon not used for 51 weeks is said over and over. We learn who controls their own destiny and who needs help making the playoffs. Some years it seems almost everybody has a shot at the playoffs. This year the AFC playoff picture has plenty of possibilities. Five teams are fighting for two playoff spots. Beyond that is a fight for seeding among teams that have already clinched playoff berths. Home field throughout the playoffs is totally up for grabs.

That’s our assessment of the 2021-2022 AFC playoff permutations and combinations.


A major change began starting last year.

After 30 years of 12 teams making the playoffs, it now expands to 14 teams. Seven teams from each conference go to the postseason. This means each conference has three Wildcard teams instead of two. More importantly, it is no longer the top two seeds that get a first-round bye.

The two-seed plays a Wildcard game. Only the top seed with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs gets the first-round bye.





ALL EIGHT AFC Week 17 games have playoff implications.

In the AFC, three of the four divisions have already been clinched. Yet the top seed is wide open. So are two of the three Wildcard spots.

The NFC playoff picture is another matter entirely.

Now for the AFC Playoff picture.

1.) Tennessee Titans (11-5):

The Titans have clinched the AFC South and control their own destiny. If the Titans win their regular-season finale at Houston, they are the top seed with home-field advantage. They will also have a first-round bye. If the Titans lose, they can still be the top seed provided Kansas City loses at Denver, Cincinnati loses at Cleveland, and Buffalo and New England either both win or both lose.

Should the Titans lose and Kansas City wins, the Titans would fall to the two seed. If the Titans and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins, the Titans would fall to the three seed. If the Titans, Kansas City, and Buffalo all lose and Cincinnati wins and New England wins at Miami, the Titans fall to the four seed. The Titans cannot fall lower than the four seed.

2.) Kansas City Chiefs (11-5):

The Chiefs have clinched the AFC West and are currently the two seed. If they win, they cannot be lower than two seeds. Chiefs win and Tennessee loses, the Chiefs move to the top seed with home field throughout the playoffs.

Should the Chiefs lose, they can remain the two seed as long as Cincinnati, Buffalo, and New England all lose. If the Chiefs lose and either Cincinnati, Buffalo or New England wins, the Chiefs fall to the three seed.

If the Chiefs lose, Cincinnati wins, and either Buffalo or New England win, the Chiefs fall to the four seed. The Chiefs cannot fall lower than the four seed. Got it?

3.) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6):

The Bengals have clinched the AFC North and are currently the three seed. If the Bengals win, Kansas City loses, and either Buffalo wins or New England loses, the Bengals move up to the two seed. If the Bengals win and Tennessee and Kansas City both lose and either New England loses or Buffalo wins, the Bengals move to the top seed with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Conversely, if the Bengals lose and either Buffalo or New England wins, the Bengals fall to the four seed. The Bengals cannot fall lower than the four seed.

Yet the Bengals even have a slim chance of winning and still falling to the four seed if New England wins and Buffalo loses.



4.) Buffalo Bills (10-6):

The Bills are tied for the AFC East lead and right now are the four seed. The Bills hold the division tie-breaker but they have not locked the division up. They have clinched a playoff spot and have a very wide range of possibilities.

If the Bills win next week at home against the Jets, they remain the four seed. Should the Bills lose but New England also loses, the Bills remain the four seed. And if the Bills win and either Kansas City or Cincinnati loses, the Bills move up to the three seed.

If the Bills win and Kansas City and Cincinnati both lose, the Bills move up to the two seed. The Bills cannot be higher than the two seeds.

The top seed is out of reach. In all of these scenarios, the Bills host a Wildcard game. Yet if the Bills lose and New England wins, the Bills lose the division and fall to the sixth seed. If the Bills lose and New England and the Colts both win, the Bills fall to the seven seed. In these scenarios, the Bills would then have to play a Wildcard game on the road.

5.) New England Patriots (10-6):

The Patriots have clinched a playoff spot and are currently the five seed. They have a very wide range of possibilities. Right now they are tied for the AFC East lead but they do not hold the tie-breaker. If they lose or if Buffalo wins, the Patriots have to play a Wildcard game on the road. Should the Patriots win and Buffalo loses, the Patriots win the AFC East and move up to the three seed.

If the Patriots win and Buffalo, and Kansas City both lose, the Patriots move up to the two seed.

In these situations, the Patriots would host a Wildcard game. If the Patriots win and Buffalo, Kansas City, and Tennessee all lose, the Patriots vault all the way to the top seed with home field throughout the playoffs.  And a first-round bye. On the flip side, if the Patriots lose and Indianapolis or the Raiders win, the Patriots fall to the sixth seed.

They cannot be lower than that.


NFL 2021-2022 NFC Playoff Permutations and Combinations


6.) Indianapolis Colts (9-7):

The Colts have not clinched a playoff spot but they control their own destiny. If the Colts win at Jacksonville, they are in the playoffs at worst as the seven-seed Wildcard. Should the Colts win and the Chargers and New England either both win or both lose, the Colts move up to the sixth seed. If the Colts win, the Raiders lose, and New England loses, the Colts move up to the five seed.

They cannot be higher than the five seed.

If they win and the Raiders also win, the Colts drop to the seven seed.

In all these scenarios, the Colts are on the road for a Wildcard game.

If they lose, they can still make the playoffs as the seven seed but would need a ton of help. They can lose and get in if Pittsburgh, the Chargers, and New England all lose. If by some bizarre scenario Pittsburgh and Baltimore tie, then the Colts can lose and get in if the Chargers also lose.

If the Colts lose and either New England, the Chargers, or Pittsburgh win, the Colts are out.

7.) Los Angeles Chargers (9-7):

The Chargers have not clinched a playoff spot but they control their own destiny. They have the simplest do-or-die scenario. If the Chargers win at the Raiders, they are in the playoffs as the six-seed Wildcard and would play a road playoff game. If they lose to the Raiders, they are out. No other games have any bearing on their situation. If the game somehow ends in a tie, both teams are in.

8.) Las Vegas Raiders (9-7):

Although the Raiders are on the outside looking in as the eighth spot, this is misleading. They also control their own destiny. If they win at home against the Chargers, the Raiders are in the playoffs as the sixth seed. If the Raiders win and either the Bills or Patriots lose, the Raiders move up to the five seed.

They cannot move higher than five seed.

The Raiders could lose to the Chargers and still make the playoffs, but it would take a miracle. If the Raiders, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh all lose, the Raiders would be in the playoffs at the seven seed.

They would be on the road for a Wildcard game. If the Raiders lose and either Indianapolis or Pittsburgh wins, the Raiders are out. Again, if the Raiders game against the Chargers somehow ends in a tie, both teams are in.

The Raiders do not play until Sunday night, meaning the results of all the other games will be known before they kick-off.

If Indianapolis and Pittsburgh lose their games earlier that day, the Raiders will have clinched their Wildcard seven seed before they play their game.

They would be the only team in the AFC who would be able to rest their starters in the regular season finale.

9.) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1):

The Steelers are currently the nine spot on the outside looking in. They need help to make the playoffs. If the Steelers win at Baltimore and Indianapolis loses, the Steelers make the playoffs as seven seed provided the Raiders and Chargers do not finish in a tie.

The Steelers cannot finish higher than the seven seed and would play a road Wildcard game.

If Indianapolis wins or in the highly unlikely event that the Chargers and Raiders play to a tie (Only one game all season out of 240 so far have ended in a tie. The Steelers were in that game.), the Steelers are out. If the Steelers lose, they are automatically out regardless of other actions.

10.) Baltimore Ravens (8-8):

They are on the outside looking in and can only enter the playoffs as a Wildcard. If they beat Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, Miami and the Chargers all lose, the Ravens sneak in as the seven seed and would be on the road for a Wildcard playoff game. They cannot finish higher than the seven seed. If either Indianapolis, Miami or the Chargers win, the Ravens are out. If the Ravens lose, they are automatically out regardless of other action.

Here are all eight AFC games with playoff implications:

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at Denver Broncos (7-9)Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) at Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at Cleveland Browns (7-9)
New York Jets (4-12) at Buffalo Bills (10-6)
Indianapolis Colts (9-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13-1)
Tennessee Titans (11-5) at Houston Texans (4-12)
New England Patriots (10-6) at Miami Dolphins (8-8)
Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) at Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)

Predictions:

1.) Titans 12-5
2.) Chiefs 12-5
3.) Bengals 11-6
4.) Bills 11-6
5.) Raiders 10-7
6.) Patriots 10-7
7.) Colts 10-7
Out — Chargers 9-8, Baltimore 9-8, Pittsburgh 8-8-1

Wildcard Round:

7.) Colts at 2.) Chiefs
6.) Patriots at 3.) Bengals
5.) Raiders at 4.) Bills

Divisional Round:

6.) Patriots at 1.) Titans
4.) Bills at 2.) Chiefs

AFC Title Game: 2.) Chiefs at 1.) Titans

Prediction: The home field will not matter. Patrick Mahomes is still the best player in the NFL, certainly in the AFC. Walrus Andy Reid has too many weapons on offense and a much-improved defense. As physical as the Titans are if the Chiefs grab the early lead, the Titans cannot play their game of smashmouth.

The Chiefs have too much speed. They will again win the Lamar Hunt Trophy known for their late owner and founder.

Additional prediction: The Chiefs will win it all.

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Eric Golub

Brooklyn born, Long Island raised and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”