Why? Because none of them wanted to see the San Diego Chargers make the playoffs. The obvious implication, of course, is that the Chiefs would be an easier opponent.
Well, perhaps each of those teams has a reason to celebrate today. Because, indeed, the Chargers will be sitting at home during the postseason, while the division champion Chiefs have clinched their first playoff birth since 2006.
With their season on the line, the supposedly fearsome San Diego juggernaut went into Cincinnati to face the three-win Bengals and laid an enormous egg. Meanwhile, the Chiefs upped their home record to 7-0 and continued showing signs of being dominant on their home field with a 34-14 win over the Tennessee Titans.
In the week leading up to the game, many around K.C. seemed to underestimate a Titans' team that still had an outside shot at winning their division. Tennessee is a sub-.500 squad, but they're hardly a pushover like some of the other competition the Chiefs have faced. (We're looking at you, NFC West.)
Consider the Titans' schedule this year. So far this season, they've played eight games – over half their season total to this point – against teams whose offenses rank in the top ten. Yet Tennessee entered Sunday's game tied for the league's eleventh-best scoring defense, allowing just a tick over 20 points a game.
In other words, despite a schedule loaded with high-powered offenses, the Titans have done a fairly good job at keeping their opponents off the scoreboard. In fact, only five times this season have they allowed a team to put up more than 24 points on them.
On Sunday, the Chiefs' offense scored 24 points in the first half alone, with the defense adding another touchdown before halftime. The 34 total points that K.C. finished the game with were the most Tennessee has surrendered all year.
When playing at Arrowhead, the Chiefs are scoring just under 26 points a game, and the meeting with the Titans was the fourth time in seven home games that the Chiefs have scored over 30. When compared to the overall league leaders, their home average would give the Chiefs the sixth-best scoring offense in the NFL.
Defensively, the Chiefs clamped down on a Titans' offense that had averaged about 30 points in their last two games. And one of Tennessee's two touchdowns came after a drive-ending turnover was erased because Shaun Smith's arm happened to graze the facemask of Titans' quarterback Kerry Collins.
At Arrowhead, the Chiefs are allowing just over 12 points this season. The team that allows the fewest points in the league is Pittsburgh, but they've given up 13.8 points at Heinz Field. That means the Chiefs' average of points allowed per home game is even better than the team with NFL's top scoring defense.
All told, when the Chiefs are playing at Arrowhead, their offensive output is equivalent to the league's top scoring teams, and their defensive performance makes them the NFL's toughest team to score on.
And this is a team that others supposedly wanted to see in the playoffs?
Of the four elite teams mentioned earlier, only New England is guaranteed a first-round bye. Seeding for the remaining teams hasn't been determined yet, so either the Jets, Ravens, or Steelers could be coming to K.C., depending on how the results shake out in Week 17.
Without question, each of those teams would be an extremely tough contest for the Chiefs. But given what we know about how the Chiefs have played at Arrowhead, if there's actually any truth to the idea that those teams preferred to have K.C. in the playoff mix, it could prove to be a case of being careful what you wish for.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Will the Chiefs lost at home in January?
The Chiefs are an Elite Team at Home
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