NFL Playoff Picture 2015: Red-Hot Chiefs Looking To Crash AFC Party

Just a couple of months ago, the Kansas City Chiefs looked dead. Now they’re quietly one of the NFL’s hottest teams.

The Chiefs started the season with a brutal stretch of games that included a three-week run against Denver, Green Bay and Cincinnati. Unsurprisingly, the Chiefs lost all three as part of a five-game losing streak that could have cost them their season.

However, the Chiefs didn’t roll over. They came out of that rough stretch and started to turn things around. They haven’t turned over the football in more than a month, and that’s a big reason why they’ve won four in a row since that five-game skid. Their 5-5 record, paired with the Buffalo Bills’ loss Monday night in Foxboro, has the Chiefs in the AFC playoff field for the time being.

Here are the rest of the NFL playoff matchups, if the playoffs started today*

AFC

First-round byes
1. New England Patriots (10-0)
2. Cincinnati Bengals (8-2)

Wild-card round matchups (Jan. 9-10)
No. 3 Denver Broncos (8-2) vs. No. 6 Kansas City Chiefs (5-5)
No. 4 Indianapolis Colts (5-5) vs. No. 5 Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)

Notes: The Broncos control their own destiny in gaining a first-round bye with games left against the Patriots and Bengals … The AFC South still is very much wide open, with only one game separating the Colts, Texans and Jaguars atop the division.

NFC

First-round byes
1. Carolina Panthers (10-0)
2. Arizona Cardinals (8-2)

Wild-card round matchups (Jan. 9-10)
No. 3 Green Bay Packers (7-3) vs. No. 6 Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
No. 4 New York Giants (5-5) vs. No. 5 Minnesota Vikings (7-3)

Notes: The Packers’ playoff hopes were questioned last week, and now they’re right back in position to earn a bye, with a Week 16 matchup in Arizona still on the slate … The Tampa Bay Buccaneers actually have leap-frogged the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh seed, just outside the playoffs … The remaining record of Panthers opponents is 26-24.

* We know the playoffs don’t start today

Playoff scenarios via NFL.com

Thumbnail photo via Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports Images

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