It's rare that a game this early in December has such strong implications for who wins the Super Bowl. On Oct. 16, the Chiefs went to Oakland and beat the Raiders 26-10. Another win on Thursday night would give Kansas City a sweep and a tiebreaker advantage over Oakland. That's particularly important because the Chiefs have a schedule advantage in the final three games. Both teams go to San Diego, but the Chiefs also get the Titans and Broncos at home, while the Raiders get the Colts at home and the Broncos on the road.
On the other hand, a Raiders win would give Oakland a two-game lead over Kansas City. Even with the easier of the two remaining schedules, that's almost insurmountable.
So in simulations in which the Raiders win on Thursday, they go on to win the AFC West 88 percent of the time. In simulations in which the Chiefs win, they go on to win the AFC West 68 percent of the time. The division title, which comes with home-field advantage and a likely first-round bye, makes for a dramatic difference in the odds of representing the AFC in Super Bowl LI. Oakland's odds of making the Super Bowl are twice as good with a Thursday win (32.8 percent) compared to a Thursday loss (16.4 percent). Kansas City's odds are more than twice as good: 22.6 percent with a win, 9.3 percent with a loss.
You'll find our playoff odds for all 32 teams below. For a full explanation on how we calculate each team's playoff odds, see the bottom of the article.
AFC PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
1. Oakland Raiders (10-2)
Odds of making playoffs: 99.3 percent
Paging Travis Kelce: Oakland ranks third in DVOA against short passes (up to 15 yards through the air) on the left side of the field and 11th against short passes on the right side, but 28th against short passes in the middle of the field.
2. New England Patriots (10-2)
Odds of making playoffs: 99.2 percent
The Patriots rise to No. 1 in our ratings this week, but their playoff odds fall slightly behind Oakland's because the Ravens look like a much more dangerous opponent for this Sunday now. More important than playoff odds right now are the odds of getting the No. 1 seed, which will change substantially depending on the results of the Thursday night game. A Chiefs win would give the Patriots a one-game lead over both Kansas City and Oakland. The Patriots get the No. 1 seed in 67 percent of simulations where the Chiefs win Thursday, but only 33 percent of the simulations where the Raiders win Thursday.