Yesterday, the Kansas City Chiefs lost a thrilling Thursday night contest against the Oakland Raiders. The last second 31-30 defeat brings the once 5-0 Chiefs' record to 5-2 seven weeks into the season. Naturally, this development helps the team's opposition – among it the currently 4-2 New England Patriots and their quest to earn the AFC's number one seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
As things stand right now, yesterday's result was definitely one New England can feel happy about: The Chiefs' loss gives the team an opportunity to tie the conference's best record (5-2) on Sunday. And even though Kansas City would still win the tiebreaker due to its 42-27 victory over the Patriots on opening day, the defending world champions are in a much better position now than they have been just two weeks ago.
Back then, the Chiefs were 5-0 with the Patriots two games and a tiebreaker behind at 3-2. The two-game deficit was already reduced to one last week, when the Pittsburgh Steelers won in Kansas City, and could potentially be erased altogether if New England defeats the visiting Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night. This, in turn, would leave only the head-to-head tiebreaker between the two clubs at the moment.
And even that could be basically nullified by a) simply winning more games at the end of the regular season or b) defeating the Steelers in week 15. As noted above, the Steelers have already beaten the Chiefs, giving them the head-to-head tiebreaker and potentially creating an interesting ménage à trois further down the line: The first tiebreaker would become useless in case all three teams are 1-1 against each other.
Instead, the tiebreaking procedure would move on to best won-loss percentage in conference games and then to games against common opponents. Currently, the first of the two favors the Steelers and their 3-1 record. Of course, a lot can and will happen until the tiebreakers effectively come into play. Nevertheless, what looked like a lopsided race just two weeks ago suddenly became a much tighter one for the time being.
Yesterday's game, therefore, means one thing in particular for the Patriots: The seeding landscape and the momentum it brings can change incredibly quickly. This change is currently happening in the team's favor – even more so, if Sunday's game against the reigning NFC champions is won. However, if the A-game is not brought consistently, the pendulum is able to swing the other way quickly.