The 2023 NFL Playoffs will see a first-round bye for the Kansas City Chiefs. Following their victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18, the Chiefs are the top seed in the AFC. They will then receive a first-round bye and a home-field advantage in the divisional round. However, there is a rule modification made in response to the Bills-Bengals cancellation. If the Chiefs play the Bills in the AFC championship game, the location will be neutral. Of course, before we get ahead of ourselves, we first need to determine whether the Chiefs can truly make it that far. That said, let’s look at our Chiefs 2023 NFL Playoffs predictions after their Week 18 win.
The Chiefs will have a bye in the Wild Card Round. At this point, the Chiefs do not yet know who they will face in the Divisional Round. However, they may play the winner of the matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers. That’s if both the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals stay true to form and win their respective Wild Card games. If either the Bills or Bengals loses, the Chiefs could potentially face the Baltimore Ravens or the Miami Dolphins, depending on which team wins their game.
Keep in mind that the Chiefs have been performing well recently. They have won 10 out of their past 11 games, including their last five in a row. Despite facing challenges earlier in the season and losing key player Tyreek Hill in the offseason, the Chiefs still secured the division title in Week 15.
With all these in mind, here are our four bold 2023 NFL Playoffs predictions for the Chiefs after their Week 18 win.
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Brought all three phases to Las Vegas 📝
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 8, 2023
4. Isiah Pacheco continues to roll
Isiah Pacheco is now of the most productive seventh-round running backs in NFL history. He wrapped up his rookie season with aplomb against the Raiders. He had 8 carries for 64 yards and scored a touchdown. Pacheco also led the Chiefs in rushing yards, with a long run of 31 yards in the fourth quarter. He also scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season on a one-yard run.
In the previous 22 seasons, no player selected in Round 7 had amassed more running yards in their first season than Pacheco did with 830. Although the Chiefs run game still needs improvement, Pacheco has a promising future. We have him averaging 50+ rushing yards per game in his first taste of the NFL Playoffs.
3. The Patrick Mahomes & Travis Kelce connection will be red-hot
To nobody’s surprise, star QB Patrick Mahomes is having a strong season. In fact, he should be a contender (if not a frontrunner) for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. In the regular season, he had 648 pass attempts, the fourth-highest number in a single season in NFL history. Mahomes also threw for 5,250 yards, a personal record for him. He also led the league in touchdowns with 41. In addition to his passing stats, Mahomes also had a successful season on the ground, rushing for 358 yards. That’s the second-most in a single season of his career. He had a high yards per carry average of 5.9 on over 60 attempts, which outpaced even Pacheco’s 4.9 yards per carry.
In Week 18, Mahomes recently set a new NFL record for total yards in a season and had a strong performance in a victory over the Raiders. He finished with 202 passing yards and a touchdown, as well as 29 rushing yards. We have him going over 330+ yards in each game of the 2023 NFL Playoffs. He’s going to be awesome. One reason for that is he still has his favorite target, Travis Kelce.
As a receiver this season, Kelce was perfect for Kansas City. He recorded 12 touchdowns, which was the most in a single season in his career. With 110 catches, he also set a new single-season career best. Additionally, Kelce broke the mark he had established in 2020 for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season (105). With 1,338 receiving yards at the end of the season, Kelce was fourth all-time among tight ends in NFL history. His connection with Mahomes should continue to be red-hot in the postseason. We have him putting up 70+ yards and one touchdown in every playoff game for 2023.
2. Chiefs will beat Jaguars in the Divisional Round
Prior to the final week of the regular season, the Chiefs had not played what they considered to be a complete game. However, in their game against the Raiders, the Chiefs offense did not turn the ball over. They also had a good balance of passing and running, and the defense pressured the opposing quarterback for turnovers. In fact, the Chiefs’ defense set a franchise record for sacks in a single season with 55, the second-highest total in team history. Additionally, the special teams were successful in all phases. If the Chiefs can maintain this level of play in the playoffs, they will be a formidable opponent.
They should do exactly that in the Divisional Round when they face Trevor Lawrence’s Jaguars. We have Jacksonville surviving the Chargers in the Wildcard Round. However, they will fall to a red-hot Chiefs unit in the Divisional Round. They also lost to KC already earlier this season. Lawrence is good, but he cannot touch Mahomes just yet. And with Kansas City’s defense so stout, the Jags will get muzzled.
1. Chiefs will fall short in the AFC Championship Game
Remember when many people did not expect the Chiefs to be successful this season after losing Tyreek Hill? That seems like so long ago. The Chiefs have proven their doubters wrong by going 14-3 and finishing at the top of the AFC. This was despite having to rebuild their defense and make changes to their offense. That said, the Chiefs will likely have a nemesis in the Buffalo Bills.
Take note that the Chiefs and the Bills both advance to the AFC Championship game, it will be held at a neutral site due to the unequal number of games played by the two teams. This decision was made by NFL owners in response to the cancellation of the Bills-Bengals game due to the Damar Hamlin injury.
This would be a titanic AFC Championship clash. It would be a rematch of the classic 2022 Playoffs match between these same teams that went into overtime. The Bills will have a huge chip on their shoulder when they face the Chiefs. Remember also that Mahomes & Co. lost to Buffalo back in mid-October. Mahomes had a good game there with 359 total yards and two touchdowns. However, he also threw two big picks. The Chiefs D also allowed Josh Allen to lead a huge fourth-quarter rally. This will be a tight, high-scoring game, but we have the Chiefs falling anew to the Bills.