The Kansas City Chiefs presumably didn't want their path to the No. 1 seed in the AFC to open up like it did. They also didn't make the rules.
The cancellation of the Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game due to Damar Hamlin's cardiac emergency on the field was terrible and more important than the results of a football season. However, the cancellation also cost the Bills a shot at the top seed in the AFC. The Chiefs needed the Bills to lose once in the final two weeks and never could have imagined the Bills would have a no contest put on their record.
The Chiefs took advantage of the situation and clinched the top seed with a win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday. They hit a couple touchdowns early and it was clear they weren't losing with the No. 1 seed on the line. They won 31-13 against a Raiders team that looked overmatched and disinterested in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Chiefs finish the season 14-3 and are the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
The Bills-Bengals cancellation also removed Josh Allen's small window to take the NFL MVP had the Bills gotten the No. 1 seed. After Saturday, Patrick Mahomes has that award all but wrapped up.
Patrick Mahomes has another big day
The Chiefs set the tone right away. Mahomes hit Justin Watson for a 67-yard pass down the left sideline, which set up Mahomes' quick flip to Jerick McKinnon for a 2-yard touchdown.
The Raiders are at the end of a bad season, starting Jarrett Stidham at quarterback because they decided to shut Derek Carr down for the rest of the season and presumably move on from him this offseason. A lot of teams already eliminated play well in the season finale, putting their best foot forward for pride. The Raiders did not.
The Raiders trailed 14-3 and had a long drive inside the 5-yard line during the second quarter. But after an incompletion on third-and-goal, Stidham threw incomplete to Davante Adams on fourth down. It seemed like that was the Raiders' best shot to make the game interesting.
The Chiefs went on a 98-yard touchdown drive after that to take a 21-3 lead. The hope from Buffalo that Josh McDaniels' Raiders would put forth a good performance and maybe even have a shot at an upset that would open up the possibility for the Bills to get the No. 1 seed was gone before halftime.
Chiefs lock up top seed in AFC
During the game, Mahomes broke an NFL record that doesn't get any attention but is still telling. He broke Drew Brees' single-season record for total yards (passing, rushing and receiving). Brees had 5,562 yards during the 2011 season.
Mahomes has done all of that, and led the Chiefs to a 14-3 record, after the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill. We have seen quarterbacks with the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins take a big step forward this season after their teams traded for a No. 1 receiver. It's an obvious benefit to a quarterback. The Chiefs traded away one of the five best receivers in the NFL and Mahomes set an NFL record for total yardage.
Mahomes was 18-of-26 for 202 yards, one touchdown and a 105 passer rating. He could have put up much bigger numbers if the Raiders kept the game competitive.
The Chiefs have another shot at a Super Bowl championship. They might have to deal with a neutral site AFC championship game against the Bills (if Buffalo wins Sunday) due to the NFL's ruling after canceling the Bills-Bengals game, but having the No. 1 seed is still a huge edge. Kansas City will be off next week while the six other AFC playoff teams play. If the Chiefs go on to win a Super Bowl, the unfortunate and unusual circumstances will always be a part of that title.
The Chiefs, most of whom wore "Love for Damar" shirts before the game, clearly didn't want this to be how they got the top seed. But the reality is that they did get it, and now they're two wins away from another Super Bowl.