Chiefs-Patriots wild-card game? Five crazy NFL playoff scenarios that could still happen

If you've been paying attention to the AFC playoff race this year, then you've probably noticed that it's gone completely off the rails. 

With just one week left to play in the regular season, every single seed is up for grabs. Yes, the Chiefs, Patriots, Texans and Chargers have all clinched a playoff spot, but none of those teams have any idea what seed they're going to be. Although the Chiefs are the top seed right now, they could drop all they way down to the fifth spot with a loss to the Raiders on Sunday. 

The Titans wouldn't even be in the playoffs if the season ended today, but by the time the season ends on Sunday, Tennessee could clinch the second seed in the AFC and get a first-round bye. Basically, there are a lot of crazy things that could still happen, and since NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano has been listing out wild scenarios this week, we've decided to take a closer look at five of them.

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Scenario 1: Chiefs travel to New England for a wild-card game 

Although this would be a nightmare scenario for the Chiefs, who currently hold the top seed in the AFC, it would be a dream scenario for every other team in the AFC playoffs and that's because it would mean that either the Patriots or the Chiefs would be eliminated in the wild-card round. It would also be a dream scenario for NFL fans, who would get to watch a rematch of the wild Week 6 game between these two teams that the Patriots won 43-40. 

Here's what would have to happen in Week 17 for the Chiefs and Patriots to play in the wild-card round. 

Verdict: These are called crazy scenarios for a reason. The Chiefs and Patriots are both favored by at least 13 points, which means we would have to see at least two monumental upsets for this to happen. If this scenario does happen, the Patriots would get the fourth seed and they would host the Chiefs, who would get the fifth seed as the top wild-card. 

Final seedings in this scenario: 1. Chargers 2. Texans 3. Ravens 4. Patriots 5. Chiefs 6. Colts 

Scenario 2/3: Ravens OR Titans get a first-round bye

The Ravens haven't even clinched a playoff berth yet, but by the time Week 17 is over, they could have earned a playoff berth AND a first-round bye. No one has been able to figure out how to stop the Ravens' offense since Lamar Jackson took over as quarterback and stopping them after a week of rest for Baltimore would probably be nearly impossible. 

Here's what would have to happen in Week 17 for the Ravens to get a first-round bye. 

  • Ravens beat the Browns
  • Chiefs beat the Raiders
  • Patriots lose to the Jets
  • Texans lose to the Jaguars

Verdict: If the Jets can somehow upset the Patriots, this scenario doesn't feel too far-fetched. If the four results above actually happen, the AFC playoffs would be thrown into total chaos. Not only would the Ravens get the second seed and a first-round bye, but the Texans would also drop all the way to the sixth spot in the AFC with the Colts-Titans winner taking first place in the AFC South. 

Final seedings in this scenario: 1. Chiefs 2. Ravens 3. Colts-Titans-Patriots 4. Colts-Titans-Patriots 5. Chargers 6. Texans 

(If the Colts beat the Titans, New England would get the third seed and Indy would get the fourth seed. If the Titans beat the Colts, Tennessee would get the third seed and the Patriots would get the fourth seed)

Here's what would have to happen in Week 17 for the Titans to get a first-round bye. 

  • Titans beat the Colts
  • Texans lose to the Jaguars
  • Patriots lose to the Jets 
  • Ravens lose to the Browns

Verdict: No one in Tennessee should even be thinking about the possibility of a bye and that's because there's no guarantee that the Titans are even going to make the playoffs. They might not have Marcus Mariota on Sunday, which means they'll have to beat the Colts with Blaine Gabbert just to clinch a playoff berth. 

Final seedings in this scenario: 1. Chiefs 2. Titans 3. Patriots 4. Steelers-Ravens 5. Chargers 6. Texans 

(Since the Ravens have to lose in this scenario, it would open the door for the Steelers to make the playoffs if they beat the Bengals). 

Scenario 4: Texans take the top seed in the AFC

The Texans are currently sitting at the No. 3 spot in the AFC, but they could jump up to the top spot if a few games go their way on Sunday. 

Here's what would have to happen in Week 17 for the Texans to get the top seed in the AFC

  • Texans beat the Jaguars
  • Chiefs lose to the Raiders
  • Chargers lose to the Broncos
  • Patriots lose to the Jets

Verdict: Of all the crazy scenarios, this might be the craziest. Not only do they need the Patriots and the Chiefs to lose, but the Texans would also need the Broncos to beat the Chargers. It feels like this scenario has about a .000001 percent chance of happening. Sorry, Texans fans.  

Final seedings in this scenario: 1. Texans 2. Chiefs 3. Ravens 4. Patriots 5. Chargers 6. Colts/Titans

Scenario 5: The Ravens AND Steelers both make the playoffs

If Ravens beat the Browns on Sunday, that means that Baltimore will win the AFC North. However, a win by the Ravens WON'T eliminate the Steelers from playoff contention. As long as Pittsburgh beats the Bengals, that means the Steelers' playoff hopes will be alive going into the Sunday night game. It's going to take a miracle, but both the Ravens AND the Steelers could end up in the postseason. 

Here's what would have to happen in Week 17 for both teams to get in

  • Ravens beat the Browns
  • Steelers beat the Bengals
  • Colts TIE the Titans

Verdict: On one hand, this scenario seems like a long shot because the Steelers would need the Colts and Titans to tie, but let's not forget that 2018 has been the year of the tie. There have already been two ties this season, marking just the fourth time that's happened since overtime was instituted in 1974. Also, the Titans have been practically begging for one of their games to end in a tie. Tennessee has had six games that have been decided by four points or less and one of those even went to overtime. The Colts have also had six games decided by four points or less and they probably would have already had a tie this season if Frank Reich hadn't made a crazy fourth down call during an overtime loss to the Texans. Of the five crazy scenarios, this one might be the most realistic. 

Final seedings in this scenario: 1. Chiefs 2. Patriots 3. Texans 4. Ravens 5. Chargers 6. Steelers

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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