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NFL playoff picture: Who to root for in Week 17 if you are a Kansas City Chiefs fan

Week 17 is here and the Kansas City Chiefs are atop the AFC West, but stumbling as the playoff picture crystalizes. Who should Chiefs fans root for to help their chances?

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs with the ball during the third quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on December 25, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs have stumbled since late October, going 3-5 since Week 8 and sitting at 9-6 overall heading into Week 17. They went from a legit shot at the No. 1 seed to guaranteed no better than the No. 2 seed. And coming out of Week 16, they’re still not even guaranteed a division title.

The Chiefs are hosting the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. They have a two-game lead in the division and will clinch the division with a win over the Bengals or a win next week at the Chargers. They don’t need help to clinch the division, but given how the past two months have played out, any help will be welcome. Here’s a look at some matchups in Week 17 in which Chiefs fans will have a rooting interest.

Result: The Chiefs beat the Bengals to clinch the AFC West title. Kansas City is locked into the No. 3 seed for the 2024 NFL Playoffs.

Raiders vs. Colts
Chargers vs. Broncos

Raiders result: The Raiders lost 23-20 to the Colts. The Broncos beat the Chargers.

The Chiefs can clinch the AFC West with a win over the Bengals, but they would also clinch the title if the Raiders and Broncos either lose or tie in their Sunday matchups. One note on the Raiders is if the Chiefs end up losing out and the Raiders win the division, Chiefs fans would look back on this and be rooting for a Raiders win over the Colts this week. But no need to over complicate things. Las Vegas is a field goal underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook while Denver is a five-point favorite.

Panthers vs. Jaguars
Titans vs. Texans

Results: The Jaguars and Texans won with ease on Sunday.

The Jaguars and Texans are tied with the Colts atop the AFC South and all three sit a game back of the Chiefs. These matchups matter for purposes of who gets the No. 3 seed vs. who gets the No. 4 seed. Kansas City has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Jacksonville and a two-game lead in the conference record tiebreaker over Houston. Chiefs fans should root for the Panthers and Titans.

The Jaguars are a touchdown favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook while the Texans are a 4.5-point favorite.

Dolphins vs. Ravens
Bills vs. Patriots

Results: The Ravens crushed the Dolphins while the Bills outlasted the Patriots.

Kansas City cannot claim the No. 1 seed, but the No. 2 seed is still within faint reach. They sit two games back of Miami, but a head-to-head win in Week 9 means if the Chiefs win out and the Dolphins lose out but still win the AFC East, Kansas City would be the No. 2 seed.

However, if the Dolphins lose out and the Bills win out, Buffalo would claim the No. 2 seed. So, Chiefs fans want the Dolphins and Bills to both lose this week, and then the Bills to beat the Dolphins in Week 18.

Miami is a 3.5-point underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook while Buffalo is a 12-point favorite.