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How can Chiefs clinch the No. 1 seed, a first-round bye, & home-field advantage in Week 18?

The Chiefs are on the verge of clinching the No. 1 seed. We break down what Week 18 means for their 2023 playoff hopes.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco (10) celebrates after a Chiefs touchdown in the fourth quarter of an AFC West game between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs on January 1, 2023 at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sunday update: The Buffalo Bills beat the Patriots, which keeps a potential Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship game to be held at a neutral site.

Saturday update: The Chiefs have clinched the top seed in the AFC with a win over the Raiders. If the Bills win on Sunday, a potential Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship game will be held at a neutral site.


The Kansas City Chiefs find themselves in an unusual position heading into Week 18. They have the best record in the AFC and can clinch a No. 1 seed in the 2023 NFL Playoffs, but that might not get them home-field advantage if they reach the AFC title game.

The cancellation of the Bills-Bengals Week 17 contest means the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals will both play one less game than Kansas City. That means the Bengals can no longer attain the No. 1 seed. The Bills need a win and a Chiefs loss to clinch the No. 1 seed. That means the Chiefs can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win or a Bills loss. They can also clinch it with a tie and a Bills tie.

Acquiring the No. 1 seed would earn them a first-round bye, but it would not necessarily net them home-field advantage beyond the second round of the playoffs. To claim home-field in the AFC title game, the Chiefs need to win and have the Bills lose or tie the Patriots. Additionally, the Chiefs would acquire HFA if they tie the Raiders and the Bills lose to the Patriots.

There are three scenarios in which the Chiefs would play the AFC title game on a neutral field if they advanced that far. They are as follows:

  1. Buffalo and Kansas City both win or both tie – a Buffalo vs. Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
  2. Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties – a Buffalo vs. Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
  3. Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins – a Buffalo or Cincinnati vs. Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.