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The Chiefs need to stay a step ahead of the Chargers in the AFC West race

The San Diego Chargers seem to be clicking on all cylinders. We all know that. They are rolling, and they just trounced the Matt Cassel-less Kansas City Chiefs to the beat of a 31-0 rout, then dominated the San Francisco 49ers on national television. There is little doubt that the Chargers made a resounding statement that they are still the best team in the AFC West.

Luckily, the Chiefs don’t need to be the best team in the AFC West. They just need to not let the Chargers gain any more ground, and the easiest way to do that is to win their final three games.

At the St. Louis Rams.

At home against the Tennessee Titans.

At home against the Oakland Raiders.

These games are all probably ones the chiefs “should” win, but that guarantees nothing. Even if a team is heavily favored in all three games, that team still does not have very good odds of winning all three.

It all starts with Sunday and the Rams, though. Hopefully the Chiefs offense, which is fresh off a shutout, will be able to get it together with the likely return of quarterback Matt Cassel. They better, or else they’ll no longer be ahead of everybody else in the AFC West.

Kansas City currently has a half-game lead on San Diego in the division. Should a tiebreaker scenario arise at the end of the season, it appears likely that the Chiefs will miss the playoffs. This is why the Chiefs must remain one step ahead of the Chargers, who are currently playing as well as anyone in the NFL.

If the Chiefs lose on Sunday to the Rams, things will not be looking good. The Chiefs would then have to hope that the Chargers lose one of their final two games or else beating the Titans and Raiders at home will mean nothing.

Going into this week, Football Outsiders has the Chiefs at a 51.7% likelihood they win the division, with the Chargers at 31.7%.  Last week, the Chiefs were at about 65%.

Todd Haley should have a clear message to the team. They are in complete control of their own destiny; they win out, they make the playoffs. It’s that simple. If they lose, it will start to look very iffy.

I have no idea how the Chiefs will fare on Sunday. Truth be told, I haven’t had much of a chance to watch Rams games this year. But we could really use this one.

If the Chiefs win on Sunday, things get not only simpler, but also incredibly easier. The Chiefs are an undefeated 6-0 in home games at Arrowhead Stadium this year. If you can edge out a win in St. Louis, all the Chiefs have to do to make the playoffs is continue that trend by beating a battered Titans team and getting a revenge win against the Raiders. If the Chiefs win on Sunday, Chiefs fans should feel very good about the team’s playoff chances.

The important thing to look at is that it doesn’t matter if the Chargers win their final two games by 50 points each. If the Chiefs can win their remaining games, they’re in.

The Chiefs are battling for a home playoff game. Sounds pretty good coming off a last place, 4-12 finish last year, eh?

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