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NFL Playoff Picture: Stunning Chargers win just raised the stakes for Chiefs vs. Seahawks

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, I wrote that there was a non-zero chance that the Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks Week 16 game could be meaningless for both sides, with both teams in position to secure their respective playoff positions with wins and favorable results elsewhere. As of Thursday night at a little bit after 8:30 PM PT, there’s a 100% chance that this Sunday Night Football showdown will carry a lot of weight for Kansas City at the very least.

Philip Rivers engineered yet another incredible comeback on the road in hostile territory, as the Los Angeles Chargers scored 15 points in the final four minutes, including a game-winning two point conversion to Mike Williams (who scored three touchdowns on the night) with :04 on the clock to give his side a stunning 29-28 win in Kansas City. Chiefs fans surely thought this would be the night they’d clinch the AFC West and be within touching distance of the #1 seed, now they have to worry about blowing the entire division and having to start their playoff run on the road.

Right now, the Chargers and Chiefs are both 11-3, but the Chiefs hold the divisional tiebreaker and thus are still in first-place. That can change in a flash if the Chargers beat the dangerous Baltimore Ravens at home next Saturday, and the Chiefs lose at Seattle the following night. If the Chargers lose to Baltimore, the Chiefs can then clinch the AFC West with a win at Seattle, but a loss would leave them at risk of losing the #1 seed to the New England Patriots, who have the head-to-head tiebreaker on Kansas City.

There’s still a possibility that the Seahawks enter December 23rd with the #5 seed locked up — a win at the San Francisco 49ers and a Minnesota Vikings loss/tie vs. the Miami Dolphins does the trick — but the Chiefs’ road trip to Seattle now carries a ton of meaning in some form.

Should the Seahawks clinch a playoff spot but not the #5 seed by next Sunday night, then what’s on the line for them is most likely the difference between playing at the Dallas Cowboys and at the Chicago Bears under near-certain frigid conditions. If the Seahawks lose to the 49ers and other results lead to them not having a playoff spot locked up by game time... then sh-t just got real.

But you know what? Even if the Seahawks DO have the #5 seed secured, I don’t think Pete Carroll would rest his starters. There’s now a major opportunity to play spoiler, and if Carroll believes this team can make a Super Bowl run — I damn well bet he does — why wouldn’t you want to potentially knock that high-flying offense from the #1 seed all the way down to #5?

We’ll have to wait and see how this Sunday’s game at the 49ers plays out for the Seahawks, but I am suddenly a lot more hyped for next weekend.