KC close but can't clinch playoff spot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With the Kansas City Chiefs at 9-1, it's a foregone conclusion they will make the playoffs. Winning two of their remaining six games virtually assures the Chiefs a postseason spot. Even with just one more victory, it's almost certain they will be playing in January.

But by my calculations, they'll have to wait at least one more week to clinch a playoff berth, even if they beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Never mind Denver, Cincinnati, New England and Indianapolis. They currently lead their divisions and/or have too many wins for the Chiefs to eliminate this weekend. It's the other seven teams we're going to worry about. The Chiefs need to eliminate seven of them to claim one of the AFC's six playoff berths.

Eight other teams could still conceivably catch the Chiefs. While six of those teams are 4-6 and on the verge of extinction where it come to Kansas City's playoff spot, too many of them play one another for the Chiefs to eliminate all of them this weekend. By losing Sunday in Kansas City, the 4-6 Chargers could no longer catch the Chiefs.

By beating the Chargers, the Chiefs would eliminate the 4-6 Browns by virtue of a victory in a game between the teams and the 4-6 Steelers would no longer be a factor for the Chiefs if they lose to Cleveland on Sunday.

An identical situation exists with the 4-6 Titans, who lost last month to the Chiefs. Tennessee could eliminate the 4-6 Raiders as a threat to the Chiefs by beating Oakland on Sunday.

Two 5-5 teams, the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, can also get to 11 victories by winning out. The Chiefs can eliminate the Jets but not the Dolphins if each team loses its game on Sunday. But the Jets are playing another one of the 4-6 teams, Baltimore, and a Ravens victory keeps them alive in the chase for the Chiefs.

My brain is scrambled after almost two hours of trying to keep this stuff straight, so it's possible I've erred here. But the calculations look solid to me.

If so, your playoff clinching party will have to wait at least one more week.