KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The AFC side of the playoff bracket has been set, and the Kansas City Chiefs have four potential opponents they could face after the bye: Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins.
Let’s take a look at who the Chiefs could play and how they match up with each team.
Jacksonville will face the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card round. The Chiefs faced Jacksonville earlier in the season at home, where they won 27-17 in a game they controlled from start to finish.
The Jags are an improved team since then, thanks to solid defense and the emergence of quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They are one of the NFL’s hottest teams and have won five straight heading into the playoffs. They have solid weapons in Zay Jones and Christian Kirk, but they may not have enough firepower and experience to keep up with the Chiefs’ offense.
This would likely be the toughest matchup for the Chiefs.
The divisional rival has one of the league’s top quarterbacks and game-changers on defense. The Chiefs swept the Chargers in two tightly contested games, with both wins by a combined six games.
In fact, five out of the last six Chiefs-Chargers matchups have been one-score games (Chiefs rested starters for one of matchups) in large part because of the play of Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. Chiefs have also been 4-1 in those one-score games.
This is Herbert’s first year in the playoffs. The Chargers were able to secure a playoff berth after battling with injuries all season. They also have two receivers in, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who have given the Chiefs a multitude of problems over the years.
The Ravens are an interesting team because of Lamar Jackson’s health.
They will head to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in the Wild Card round. Jackson makes up most of the Ravens’ offense but has been pedestrian at best without him while he has been dealing with a knee injury. Quarterback Tyler Huntley has shown flashes of potential as well.
With Jackson’s status for the playoffs still up in the air, it’s hard to get a true grasp on this team.
Baltimore has a stout defense that keeps in games, the league’s best kicker in Justin Tucker and a top tight end in Mark Andrews. If Lamar is not able to play, they will be asking for a tall task from their defense; if he’s available, they can compete with anybody.
This matchup would definitely be the most intriguing for Chiefs fans with the return of Tyreek Hill to Arrowhead.
The Dolphins will have quite the challenge going up the Bills in the Wild Card. Hill is one of the best receivers in the league and maybe the fastest the league has ever seen, and his running mate Jaylen Waddle gives the Dolphins a top receiving corps in the league.
But the Dolphins are also dealing with health issues at the QB position, with Tua Tagovailoa dealing with his second concussion of the season. If Tagovailoa can’t go, KC-native Skylar Thompson or Teddy Bridgewater will fill in, and the Dolphins have not been the same offense without Tagovailoa.
Hill and Waddle are both game-breakers and a threat to score from anywhere on the field, but they will need strong QB play to advance in the playoffs.