KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts face off Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium with each team having secured a playoff spot. The Chiefs have clinched at least a wild-card berth and at 11-3 are tied with the Denver Broncos for first place in the AFC West. The 9-5 Colts, meanwhile, have clinched the AFC South championship.
Both teams can improve their playoff seeding. The Chiefs would most likely be the No. 1 seed in the AFC if they can win the division title. The Colts can still get a first-round playoff bye.
So there’s still much at stake for both teams. In the case of Sunday’s game, though, the matter is a little more complicated. As the situation stands, the Chiefs and Colts would also meet in two weeks in a wild-card playoff game. That one would be played in Indianapolis.
Normally, under such circumstances, one team or both might back off Sunday, hold back certain plays or even rest some key players in wait for the game in two weeks with even more at stake. But at least in the case of the Chiefs, they won’t do that Sunday.
“I don’t think you do," coach Andy Reid said. “We’re far enough along in the year. You have enough in the playbook that you can draw from on both sides of the ball and special teams-wise. I don’t think there’s any reason to do that.
“Plus, the season is still alive. I mean, you want to go in and give it your best shot. I’ll probably tell you the same thing that I told you when we played Denver: You give it the best shot your first time, and then you come back two weeks later and give it your best shot then. That’s how we’ll approach it.”
That’s the right call. The benefits of winning the AFC West title (first-round bye, at least one playoff game at home) are so great compared to those of being a wild-card team (no first-round bye, likely all playoff games on the road) that the Chiefs need to go for it.
If the Chiefs beat the Colts on Sunday, there’s a chance they won’t have to face them again in two weeks.