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NFL playoff picture: Chiefs’ loss against the Rams helps the Patriots in the race for the AFC’s top seed

New England is only one game behind Kansas City now.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams played one of the most hyped-up games in recent memory on Monday night: both teams were 9-1 entering the contest and featuring two of the best offenses in the NFL. Safe to say that the game lived up to its hype, as the home-team Rams defeated the Chiefs 54-51 — the first time in league history that both teams crossed the 50-point barrier in a game.

Not to be forgotten in the aftermath of the epic showdown should be the impact it has on the playoff race, though. With the Chiefs losing their second game of the year, their lead in the AFC is getting smaller as a look at the conference’s postseason picture shows:

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1)

3. New England Patriots (7-3)

4. Houston Texans (7-3)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)

6. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

As we already discussed yesterday, New England owns the tiebreaker over both the Chiefs and the Texans due to beating them both earlier during the season. As a result, the Patriots — who will still play the Steelers in week 15 for what appears to be at least a first-round bye — now finds themselves ahead of Houston in the standings and are only one game behind the currently top-seeded Chiefs.

And while Kansas City still controls its own destiny for the number one seed, the team still has some challenges awaiting after its week 12 bye. Meanwhile, the Patriots’ biggest hurdles appear to be the Minnesota Vikings and a Steelers team that needs to play against four teams currently in the playoff race:

NFL schedule weeks 12-17

Team Chiefs Steelers Patriots
Team Chiefs Steelers Patriots
Week 12 BYE at Broncos at Jets
Week 13 at Raiders vs Chargers vs Vikings
Week 14 vs Ravens at Raiders at Dolphins
Week 15 vs Chargers vs Patriots at Steelers
Week 16 at Seahawks at Saints vs Bills
Week 17 vs Raiders vs Bengals vs Jets

Judged by the schedule awaiting the three teams, the Patriots and Chiefs seem have the easiest path towards earning a bye week. And when it comes to home field advantage throughout the tournament, New England’s week six win over Kansas City could loom large when it is all said and done — the Rams’ victory yesterday is a big reason for that.

The NFC’s playoff picture currently looks as follows:

1. Los Angeles Rams (10-1)

2. New Orleans Saints (9-1)

3. Chicago Bears (7-3)

4. ​Washington Redskins (6-4)

5. Carolina Panthers (6-4)

6. Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1)