Predicting the AFC West race

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As I predicted three weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs and not the Denver Broncos will be the undefeated ones on Nov. 17 when the teams get together for the first of their two annual meetings.

The 9-0 Chiefs are heading into their bye week. The 7-1 Broncos are coming off theirs and play the Chargers on Sunday in San Diego.

The race for the AFC West championship will be a fascinating one and the stakes are huge. To the winner goes, most likely, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. The loser gets far less-desirable path to the Super Bowl: three games on the road.

The Chiefs have, for now, a 1.5-game lead, so they have some margin for error. But they won’t have much if the Broncos win in San Diego on Sunday. Let’s look at what the Chiefs might need to do to win the division.

The remaining schedules for the Chiefs and Broncos are similar. They will meet twice, the rematch coming on Dec. 1 at Arrowhead Stadium. Both teams still have to play the Chargers twice and each has a game remaining against the Raiders in Oakland.

The differences in the respective schedule are here: Kansas City’s remaining games are at Washington and home against Indianapolis. The Broncos are at New England, at Houston and home against Tennessee.

I’m predicting here the Chiefs and Broncos will split their two games and that each team will also split with the Chargers. Also, I’m giving both teams a victory over the Raiders.

That puts the Chiefs at 12-2 and the Broncos at 10-3. I’m also giving the Broncos a loss in New England and a final record of 12-4.

Under this scenario, the Chiefs would need to merely split their games with Washington and Indianapolis to win the AFC West and, most likely, be able to play in the postseason with all of the comforts of home.

The Chiefs are certainly capable of a split with the Redskins and Colts. But will they be able to get it done?