AFC Playoff Picture: Why Patriots want Chargers to beat Chiefs tonight


We doubt many New England Patriots fans own a Philip Rivers jersey. But Thursday night would be the perfect time to wear it.

The Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs on "Thursday Night Football" in an AFC West clash that should be of particular interest to Patriots fans.

Why? Because if the Chargers win, New England's slim odds of gaining the AFC's No. 1 seed would increase.

First things first: If the 11-2 Chiefs win Thursday to move to 12-2, the 9-4 Patriots would need to win out and have Kansas City lose to the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders to earn the No. 1 seed. That's a lot to ask.

BUT ... If L.A. can defeat the Chiefs for the first time since 2013, there are two more probable scenarios where New England finishes with the No. 1 seed (assuming the Patriots win their final three games).

1. Chiefs finish 12-4 and win the AFC West. K.C. has a tricky road matchup in Week 16 against the Seahawks, who are 4-2 at home this season. If the Chiefs drop that game or get upset by Oakland in their season finale, they could finish with the same record as New England, which would win the tiebreaker by virtue of its Week 6 victory over Kansas City.

2. Chargers finish 12-4 and win the AFC West. If L.A. wins out, it earns the No. 1 seed. But it finishes with two tough matchups: the Baltimore Ravens at home and the Broncos in Denver. Assuming they drop one of those games, they could tie the Patriots at 12-4 atop the AFC. But New England also would win that tiebreaker, which would come down to division record. The Chiefs already have lost two games in their division, while the Patriots can go 5-1 if they defeat the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets down the stretch.

Got all that?

New England's fate still is out of its hands; the Chiefs can claim the No. 1 seed by winning two of its final three games, while the Chargers will be No. 1 if they win out. And the Patriots must win out to have any sniff at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

But Rivers and Co. would be doing the Pats a favor by stealing one in Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night.

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