KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- My immediate reaction after the Kansas City Chiefs' loss Sunday to eliminate any chance of winning the AFC West championship was that they should treat their final regular-season game against the Chargers in San Diego like a preseason game. Don't play Jamaal Charles, sit Alex Smith and rest as many other key players as possible, because winning or losing in San Diego makes no difference with regard to their playoff seeding.
The Chiefs will be the AFC's fifth seed, and there's nothing that can change that.
I'm having second thoughts on that now, and I wonder whether it wouldn't serve the Chiefs better to try to win, or at least build some momentum for the playoffs in San Diego. Two factors changed my mind.
The first was that I took a close look at what the Chiefs have accomplished and not accomplished over the past six weeks. They have four losses, three at home, against teams that are either in the playoffs (Denver twice and Indianapolis) or could get to the postseason (San Diego). The wins are against two of the worst teams in the league (Washington and Oakland).
That paints a grim picture of just how ready the Chiefs are to compete against the Colts in a rematch, or whatever opponent they might face in the first round of the playoffs.
The other was how the Philadelphia Eagles handled their Sunday night game against the Chicago Bears. The result of the Chicago game had no bearing on Philadelphia's playoff status. The Eagles will get into the postseason by winning their final regular-season game against the Dallas Cowboys, and if they lose, they won't.
Yet the Eagles went after the Bears, a team also hopeful of making the playoffs. They crushed the Bears and now the Eagles have to feel good about their postseason chances, assuming they beat the Cowboys.
So while it isn't a first-round bye or improved playoff standing, the Chiefs have something less tangible to gain by going for it in San Diego. That goal might be worth the risk.