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KC Chiefs, AFC playoff picture, analysis, 11/25/18

With their open weekend over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Chiefs became football fans. And when it came to rooting for teams that could impact their playoff positioning, they found themselves in the oddest place — cheering for the Denver Broncos.

The rivals came through.

Denver sealed a 24-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers with an interception by defensive lineman Shelby Harris in the end zone.

The Broncos ended Pittsburgh’s six-game winning streak and the Steelers fell to 7-3-1.

A week earlier, Denver stopped the Los Angeles Chargers’ six-game winning streak.

At 9-2, the Chiefs continue to hold the best record in the AFC, and the Steelers entered the weekend as the No. 2 seed in the playoff picture. The Chiefs’ schedule resumes next Sunday when they visit the Oakland Raiders.

Other close competitors won on Sunday.

The Patriots improved to 8-3 with a 27-13 victory at the New York Jets. New England’s three-game lead over the second-place Dolphins is the largest among the AFC’s division leaders.

Sunday’s results make New England the conference’s second seed in the current playoff picture.

The L.A. Chargers also stand 8-3 after Sunday’s 45-10 victory over the Cardinals. The Chargers hold the top record among non-division leaders and currently hold the fifth seed, or top wild card spot.

The Texans, one of the NFL’s hottest teams, lead the AFC South and play host to the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. Houston opened the year with three losses and has won seven straight.

The AFC’s top contenders will see plenty of each other over the final five weeks, starting next Sunday when the Steelers play host to the Chargers.

New England visits Pittsburgh on Dec. 16, and the Steelers travel to New Orleans, the current top seed in the NFC, on Dec. 23.

The Chiefs-Chargers rematch — the Chiefs won at Los Angeles in their season opener — is set for Dec. 13, a Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

Besides the Chargers, the Chiefs meet one other team that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. The Ravens, who would be the second wild card team, visit Kansas City on Dec. 9.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

No bye weeks remain in the NFL. Every team begins Week 13 with five games remaining.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes couldn’t bring good fortune to his former college team, or former coach. Mahomes attended Texas Tech’s game on Saturday against Baylor at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex. He chatted with Red Raiders coach Cliff Kingsbury on the field before the game. But the Bears won 35-24.

On Sunday, Kingsbury was fired by Tech after six seasons at his alma mater.

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Blair Kerkhoff

Blair Kerkhoff covers the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals and college sports for The Star.

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