Don't make playoff plans just yet

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Since 1990, NFL teams that begin their season 3-0 make the playoffs 75 percent of the time. So should we give the 3-0 Chiefs a good chance at reaching the postseason for the first time since 2010?

In a normal year for the AFC West and the AFC as a whole, yes. But in 2013, they’ve got a lot more work to do. It’s starting to look like at least one 10-6 AFC team and possibly more could be left out of the postseason fun come January.

Let’s look first at the AFC West. The Chiefs could win 12 games this season and still not be the division champions. The Denver Broncos look strong enough to win 13 games or more, and while it’s far too early to call a winner in the division, that’s probably the bar for getting the division title in 2013. If that turns out to be the case, let’s go ahead and give the AFC West to the Broncos for the third straight season.

That leaves the wild card. It’s looking like at least eight teams have a reasonable shot at getting to 10 wins or more: Denver, Kansas City, Houston, Indianapolis, New England, Miami, Cincinnati and Baltimore. Tennessee could conceivably get into that mix as well.

While it may not be likely that eight or nine AFC teams get to at least 10 wins, it is possible. Look at last weekend. The Chiefs, Patriots, Dolphins, Bengals and Colts each padded their win totals at the expense of an NFC team. Overall, the AFC so far this season is 11-3 against the NFC.

If that keeps up throughout the season, it’s going to take more victories to make the playoffs in the AFC than the NFC. So a 10-6 record might not be enough. This season, it will be necessary to win 11 or, better yet, 12 games to secure a playoff spot.